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Salem-News.com Writer Joins Zohydro Opponents Protesting FDA-Approved DrugSalem-News.com
“The FDA has to be swept clean from the top to the bottom. It is corrupt,” said Marianne Skolek of Myrtle Beach, S.C., who writes about the pharmaceutical industry for Oregon-based Salem-News.com.
(BOSTON) - Activists rallied Tuesday against Zohydro, a new painkiller Gov. Deval Patrick attempted to ban before being rebuffed by a federal judge. The “Massachusetts Says No to Zohydro” rally included the AFL-CIO, Learn to Cope and the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery.
Janis McGrory showed the crowd a photo of her daughter, who she said became addicted to prescription pain medication, then heroin, and died three years ago in Lynn with a “needle stuck in her neck.” “This girl is the face of addiction today,” said McGrory, of Cape Cod. “She was an honor student. … She was killed. She was murdered by prescription drugs.”
Incensed by overdose deaths and what they say is lax oversight of the pharmaceutical industry, activists, including McGrory, and powerbrokers rallied on the State House steps Tuesday against the new anti-pain medication Zohydro.
Gov. Deval Patrick attempted to ban the painkiller but was blocked when a federal judge agreed with the company Zogenix that the state cannot trump the Food and Drug Administration, which approved the drug last October against the recommendation of its scientific advisory panel.
“The FDA has to be swept clean from the top to the bottom. It is corrupt,” said Marianne Skolek of Myrtle Beach, S.C., who writes about the pharmaceutical industry for Oregon-based Salem-News.com. Skolek said she was invited to speak at the rally on the State House steps.
“They can’t sue you if it’s true,” AFL-CIO of Massachusetts President Steve Tolman said following Skolek’s remarks before delivering a fiery indictment of the pharmaceutical industry, a sector that has major ties to Massachusetts.
“There’s something wrong with this country when the pharmaceutical companies are having their way with Congress,” said Tolman, pointing into the air and decrying the lack of treatment for the millions addicted to drugs.
Unlike other medications that combine the opioid hydrocodone with the pain reliever acetaminophen, Zohydro does not include acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage when used over an extended period.
The emergence of the new painkiller amid widespread reports of a crisis of heroin and opioid addiction has raised the specter of OxyContin, the oxycodone painkiller that led to a rash of pharmacy robberies in the last decade.
“It’s been called heroin in a capsule,” said Skolek, who said it is “10 times more powerful than Vicodin.”
Vicodin uses the same active ingredient, hydrocodone, as Zohydro. Zogenix has disputed some of the claims about the potency of its new medication, and Skolek told the News Service she is not an expert on the chemistry.
Skolek said the maker of Zohydro also makes Vivitrol, a medication to help people kick opioid addictions. She said, “So when they hook your family members on Zohydro, they’re going to be given Vivitrol.”
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Joe Avellone, a former surgeon who has proposed an Office of Recovery if elected, told the crowd that their anger would help carry them to victory.
“Stay angry and we will fix this over time,” Avellone said. He said, “If we stay angry, if we keep leading from the heart, we’re going to get there.”
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