Local LA-Based Doctor, Activists Protest Release Of New Painkiller

IRVINE (CBSLA.com) — A Los Angeles-based doctor, along with several activist groups, protested the recent release of the painkiller Zohydro ER in front of the Food and Drug Administration building in Irvine.

Dr. Gregory A. Smith, who specializes in the treatment of chronic pain and also addiction to prescription painkillers, expressed his concern Thursday about the FDA’s pending approval of the drug because it does not have any anti-abuse safeguards built into its formulation to help reduce diversion.

“It can be crushed and snorted or liquefied and injected, and the 50 milligram size is like taking 10 Vicodin tablets at once. This is insane!” he said.

Smith has produced the recently released movie “American Addict,” which discusses the important business dynamic of the pharmaceutical industry.

“Prescription drug addiction and abuse already has skyrocketed in the U.S.A and making easily available a drug such as Zohydro ER has the potential to be a death sentence,” he said. “It’s time for America to stand up against the release of further medications that have the capacity for further abuse, and I hope this protest send a clear message that we have had enough.”

Orange County mother Alice Whynaught told KCAL9’s Jeff Nguyen that her son died from an overdose after a long battle with addiction that started with pills.

“He did seven rehabs. He did two or three hospitalizations,” she said. “[After that, he started] smoking heroine and then eventually shooting it.”

Whynaught added, “I don’t think that parents are aware that prescription drugs are synthetic heroine.”

Carol Roane said she lost her daughter because a doctor over-prescribed a cocktail of three opioids.

“It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for other parents,” she said.

In a written statement, the FDA said it has taken steps for more than a decade to prevent opioid abuse through the use of warning labels, surveillance efforts and by improving appropriate prescribing by doctors.

Dr. Gregory Alan Smith, M.D.