A more powerful version of America's second-most abused medicine is likely headed for a doctor's office near you, the AP reports. Four companies are in the patient-testing phase of painkillers that will be up to 10 times more effective than Vicodin thanks to a highly addictive ingredient called hydrocodone. Critics are targeting one pill in particular: Zohydro, which addicts could crush to bypass its time-release effect and receive an immediate high.
"I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin," one critic says. "We just don't need this on the market." Some analysts blame the FDA for opening the floodgates on the $10-billion-a-year market, which has triggered a rise in drug-related deaths and emergency room visits over the past decade. But companies insist the new hydrocodone pills—if approved by the FDA—will avoid liver problems caused by other medicines, and be closely supervised because patients will have to visit the doctor for every refill.