State regulators seek to impose controls on new painkiller

Several outlets look at prescription drug issues, including how to handle Zohydro -- a powerful painkiller approved by the FDA in March, and ethical questions raised by new "smart pills."

The Wall Street Journal: New Painkiller Sparks Abuse Concern
A potent new painkiller has landed in the sights of state regulators and lawmakers, who are taking the unusual step of trying to impose their own tight controls on the drug in what they call an attempt to curb abuse. Zohydro, an extended-release, pure form of the painkiller hydrocodone, went on sale in March after winning federal approval in October. The green light jolted many states that are grappling with a rising prescription-drug abuse epidemic and led 28 state attorneys general to unsuccessfully ask the U.S. Food and Drug Administration late last year to reconsider (Kamp, 5/23).

The Washington Post: 'Smart Pills' With Chips, Cameras And Robotic Parts Raise Legal, Ethical Questions
Each morning around 6, Mary Ellen Snodgrass swallows a computer chip. It's embedded in one of her pills and roughly the size of a grain of sand. When it hits her stomach, it transmits a signal to her tablet computer indicating that she has successfully taken her heart and thyroid medications. ... Snodgrass -- a 91-year-old retired schoolteacher who has been trying out the smart pills at the behest of her son, an employee at the company that makes the technology -- is at the forefront of what many predict will be a revolution in medicine powered by miniature chips, sensors, cameras and robots with the ability to access, analyze and manipulate your body from the inside (Cha, 5/24). 

The Texas Tribune/New York Times: Cost Of New Drug Complicates Access For Inmates And The Poor
A new treatment for hepatitis C is considered a breakthrough for people with the liver disease. But the high cost of the drug -- about $1,000 a pill -- has complicated efforts to get the medication to Texans who receive government-subsidized health care. The state's prison system and the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program, which covers poor children and people with disabilities, are trying to determine who qualifies for the drug, which is 80 to 90 percent effective but can cost $84,000 for a 12-week regimen (Ura, 5/24).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.



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