Different quarters, including health care activists, have criticised the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for approving the use of painkiller Zohydro as it is 10 times more strong and effective than Vicodin.
Health care advocates are worried as the new drug can lead to opioid addiction. Zohydro contains hydrocodone that is found in Vicodin too. But people are concerned as Zohydro ER will not be available in tamper-resistant form. So it can be easily crushed and snorted to get the maximum dose all at once. Other opiates, including a reformulated OxyContin, are harder and cannot be crushed and snorted. But Zohydro has not been reformulated.
Experts said in the last decade, hydrocodone has been one of the two most abused drugs in the United States.
"There are millions of people with chronic pain and the FDA says this gives them another tool for people who aren't being well handled by the existing drugs," ABC News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Richard Besser said.
Many addiction treatment groups have urged the FDA to roll back the decision to approve Zohydro as they fear it can lead to addiction and deadly overdoses.
FDA press officer Morgan Liscinsky said the agency took the decision "after careful consideration" that Zohydro ER "meets our regulatory requirements" and that "the product's benefits outweigh its risks when used as intended".