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Judge temporarily lifts Massachusetts' ban of powerful painkiller

April 16, 2014
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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The maker of the potent new painkiller Zohydro celebrated a court victory this week when a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against the state of Massachusetts' order to ban the prescribing and dispensing of the federally approved medication.

In issuing her ruling against the state on April 15, U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel indicated that drug maker Zogenix is likely to prevail in its attempt to lift the state's ban permanently. Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick imposed the ban on the hydrocodone product by executive order last month amid growing concern about the state's opioid addiction crisis.

The manufacturer has contended that the ban amounts to an overstepping of state authority and an interference with the federal government's responsibility to approve medications and safeguard the public's welfare. Massachusetts' action is believed to be the first attempt by a state government to ban a drug previously approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Zobel indicated in her decision that she agrees with Zogenix's point of view that the state's action amounted to an obstruction of the FDA's congressionally appointed charge to determine medications' safety and effectiveness.

She added in her ruling, “Although the ban may prevent someone from misusing the drug, the ban prevents all in need of its special attributes from receiving the pain relief Zohydro [extended-release] offers.” The medication is intended for individuals whose pain is so severe that they require ongoing medical attention.

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