Powerful Pain Killer Raises Concerns About Addiction - 8 News NOW

Powerful Pain Killer Raises Concerns About Addiction

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LAS VEGAS -- Prescription painkillers are the cause of more deaths in Las Vegas than methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine combined. Many drug addiction specialists believe a new pill soon to be released will add to the casualties.

The drug is called Zohydro and it is several times more powerful than traditional painkillers. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug late last year.

According to the Clark County Coroner's Office, oxycodone caused more than 140 deaths in 2012. Now some experts say Zohydro could become the next leading killer. The extended release drug can be easily crushed and abused.

While there are warnings on the label about misuse of the drug being life-threatening, there are no warnings about the life-changing mistakes that can be a side effect of the drug.

"It affected my ability to be emotionally available to my kids, it affected my ability to be present in my marriage," said Dan Mager, a recovering prescription drug addict.

He took prescription drugs for chronic pain. It didn't take long to build up a tolerance and become addicted.

"It gets to the point where your life centers around getting access to the drug," Mager said.

He is concerned the new drug will cause more people the same pain he felt.

"As it relates to Zohydro ,it's essentially hydrocodone on steroids," he said.

Against the advice of it's own panel of experts, the FDA did approve the release of the drug. It's a powerful opioid, several times more potent then Vicodin.

"I think it's all the same mistakes as OxyContin," said Doctor Mel Pohl, the medical director for Las Vegas Recovery Center.

Pohl has seen the effects of many prescription painkillers on his patients at the recovery center. He says Zohydro hitting the market is a mistake.

"Offering another very dangerous chemical to people that will end up on the street, will end up being abused, and will end up causing overdose deaths."

Seven years sober, Mager is still dealing with the pain caused caused by prescription drug abuse. He ended up divorced nine months into his recovery.

"It was for the best at the time, but it was still a very significant loss, it's something I can't help but feel it was related in some way to all of the damage I caused before getting into treatment."

8 News NOW reached out to Zogenix, the company that makes Zoyhdro, for a comment but has not received one yet.

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