Drug company objects to new Massachusetts rules
BOSTON (AP) — A San Diego company that makes the new prescription painkiller Zohydro says it is disappointed with Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s decision to impose new restrictions on the drug after a federal judge said his attempt to ban it outright was unconstitutional.
The new requirements, announced by Patrick on Tuesday, include the doctor’s completion of a risk assessment and a “pain management treatment agreement” with the patient before prescribing drugs like Zohydro.
Zohydro contains up to five times the amount of narcotic hydrocodone previously available in pills, and some health officials say the drug can be easily crushed and then inhaled or injected, making it susceptible to abuse and illegal use.
Drugmaker Zogenix said in a statement Wednesday that with the new rules, the governor is continuing to unfairly single out the new drug even as the company maintains the medication is no riskier than other opioids currently on the market.
“Imposing restrictions on one specific treatment without developing a full understanding of the facts and the causes of the problem does not serve the public interest,” the statement said.
The company also said Patrick has not accepted its offer to discuss the issue and to work together to address the needs of patients and the problem of illegal drug use.
But Heather Nichols, a spokeswoman for Patrick, said the administration has met several times with Zogenix officials and gave them “ample opportunity” to “defend the usefulness” of Zohydro. Nichols provided no further details on the meetings, including who attended or when they took place.
She said the administration remained concerned about the danger the drug presents in its current form and stands by its decision to restrict its availability in Massachusetts.
A federal judge last week blocked the state from enforcing an outright ban, which the governor issued through an executive order in March in response to a surge of drug overdoses and deaths in the state.