by Alissa C. Atkins, Esq.

At least one company has completed testing on a controlled release capsule of hydrocodone which nearly doubles the current dosage. The manufacturer, Zogenix Inc., is seeking approval from the Federal Drug Administration to begin sales of the new medication, currently known as ZX002, within the next year. What makes the new medication both novel and more dangerous is that ZX002 is not mixed with other medications. Currently, hydrocodone is sold as a cocktail of sorts, usually mixed with acetaminophen. This will be the first hydrocodone product not combined with another analgesic. The drug was developed to counter concerns about liver damage caused by extended use of acetaminophen. According to its website, Zogenix intends to market the drug to both “patients who are using immediate-release opioid products on a chronic basis and patients already using extended-release opioids.”

The new formulation of the drug has raised a concern about potential addiction and overdoses, particularly in the field of workers’ compensation. Insurance companies and TPA’s are already making plans to fight potential addiction. According to Business Insurance, some companies are concerned about long term use and are planning to request less potent medications when appropriate. While noting the medication would not be denied outright, others are contemplating a review process to ensure the mediation is both prescribed and used properly. As with any new medication, ZX002 and similar medications could increase claim costs. By carefully monitoring both doctors and claimants, insurance companies can seek to minimize long term opiate needs.