Federal judge blocks Massachusetts ban on painkiller Zohydro

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website] on Tuesday granted drug company Zogenix [corporate website] a preliminary injunction [order, PDF] against a state-wide ban of the drug Zohydro. Judge Rya Zobel stated that because Zohydro's use had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website], this determination preempts any state law banning use of the drug. Zobel also stated that Zogenix was likely to succeed on the merits of its case and receive a court order permanently lifting the ban [AP report] against the drug. The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) [advocacy website] reported that this ban is the first attempt by a state to outlaw a drug that has been previously approved for use by the FDA.

Opioid use and dependence has become an alarming issue in a number of states, with Massachusetts as an example of one where state government officials have stepped in to combat the growing problem. On March 27 Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency [press release] in the state, as a response to 140 deaths in recent months that have been linked to suspected heroin overdoses. Patrick also directed the state's Department of Public Health (DPH) [official website] to take several steps to combat the growing opioid problem, including allowing emergency first responders to begin carrying and administering the controversial opioid antagonist Naloxone. When administered in a timely fashion, Naloxone is able to reverse a heroin overdose in order to save an individual's life. DPH will also mandate physician and pharmacy use of a prescription reporting system that was previously voluntary, in order to help curb the prevalent abuse and misuse of opioids.

 

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