State slaps restrictions on powerful painkiller


BARRE - The Vermont Department of Health has issued an emergency rule restricting health care providers from prescribing a new narcotic painkiller officials fear could be even more addictive than other opiates.

The Health Department's emergency rule against Zohydro took effect Friday. Zohydro is a one-ingredient hydrocodone product.

The rule requires medical professionals to conduct a risk assessment of patients to whom they want to prescribe Zohydro and document that no other drug will effectively manage severe pain.

Health care providers must also query the Vermont Prescription Monitoring System to ensure patients have not already been prescribed the drug. They must also determine a maximum daily dose and schedule follow-up visits before prescribing Zohydro, according to the rule. Patients must sign a consent form acknowledging the risks.

Harry Chen, the commissioner of the Department of Health said, "You have to clearly state that all the other alternatives are not available or not effective."

Gov. Peter Shumlin said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to approve a powerful painkiller that is manufactured without safeguards, at a time when much of the country has acknowledged an opiate addiction crisis, is irresponsible.

"Zohydro is been approved by the FDA to the bewilderment of many of us," Shumlin said.


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