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Tennant Calls on FDA to Halt Release of Dangerous New Prescription Painkiller Zohydro

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CHARLESTON, W.Va., March 6 -- The West Virginia Secretary of State issued the following news release:

West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant today called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to halt the release of a dangerous and potentially deadly new prescription painkiller known as Zohydro.

Secretary Tennant invited the FDA to come to West Virginia and answer to local families who have lost loved ones to prescription drug addiction before releasing Zohydro on the market.

"West Virginians are working hard to combat the prescription drug epidemic. Introducing a dangerous and potentially deadly new drug into the market flies in the face of their efforts," Secretary Tennant wrote. "I ask you, please, work with us, not against us. Come to West Virginia and see the consequences of prescription drug abuse for yourself. Look in the eyes of families who have lost loved ones, and hear their stories. Honor the FDA mission to protect the public health and halt the release of Zohydro."

In December 2012 the FDA's own advisory council voted 11-2, against recommending Zohydro, citing a high risk for abuse and addiction. Despite this, the FDA approved Zohydro in October 2013 against the recommendation of public officials, advocates, law enforcement and medical personnel. Zohydro has been scheduled for release at the beginning of March.

In her letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Secretary Tennant highlighted the dangerous potential of Zohydro, which is five to ten times more potent than painkillers currently available to the public, and can be easily crushed and snorted.

Secretary Tennant also cited questions raised recently by West Virginia U.S. Senator Joe Manchin over so-called 'pay-to-play' circumstances surrounding the approval of Zohydro. Senator Manchin has requested additional information from the FDA, and Tennant said Zohydro should not be released before all parties involved comply with Manchin's request for information.

* According to a 2013 report from the Trust of America's Health, West Virginia has the highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, an increase of 605 percent since 1999.

* In McDowell County alone, twelve people die from prescription drugs every month.

"These are not just statistics - they are parents, children, friends, family members and lives torn apart," Tennant wrote.

Click here to view letter (

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