Lawyer urges federal judge to uphold MA ban on strong painkiller Zohydro

Windsor Genova – Fourth Estate Cooperative Contributor

Boston, MA, United States (4E) – The lawyers for Massachusetts and drugmaker Zohenix presented their arguments on the dring Monday’s hearing on the latter’s lawsuit against the state’s ban on the company’s painkiller Zohydro.

Assistant Attorney General Jo Ann Shotwell Kaplan told U.S. District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel that the state has the authority to regulate drugs to deter addiction and urged the latter to uphold the state’s ban on Zohydro,

“The harm to the public outweighs the harm to a single company,” Kaplan argued, according to Boston Globe.

Zohenix’s lawyer, Steven P. Hollman, said it is only the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that can restrict drugs. The FDA approved the controversial drug in December and Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick ordered its ban due to its potential for abuse until safeguards are placed to prevent the drug from being snorted or injected by addicts.

Zohenix also contends that the ban violates its constitutional rights and is seeking an injunction to the ban until the lawsuit is settled in court.

No patient in the state has taken Zohydro though there were prescriptions issued. Twenty-nine other states also banned the drug, according to Kaplan.

Zohenix officials defended the drug claiming it underwent a strict 18-month screening process and was approved by FDA with tighter oversight than other drugs, such as Vicodin. They also claim that Zohydro is safer than painkillers with acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage and failure in the long run.

Stephen J. Farr, president of the California-based Zogenix, appeared in the hearing and was confronted by activists opposed to the drug. Representatives from the support group Learn to Cope asked Farr to reconsider selling Zohydro in the state.

Farr told the women activists that the product is safe.

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