A Collaboration with the University of Pittsburgh

Federal judge blocks Massachusetts ban on painkiller Zohydro

[JURIST] A judge for the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts [official website] on Tuesday granted drug company Zogenix [corporate website] a preliminary injunction [order, PDF] against a state-wide ban of the drug Zohydro. Judge Rya Zobel stated that because Zohydro's use had been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) [official website], this determination preempts any state law banning use of the drug. Zobel also stated that Zogenix was likely to succeed on the merits of its case and receive a court order permanently lifting the ban [AP report] against the drug. The National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws (NAMSDL) [advocacy website] reported that this ban is the first attempt by a state to outlaw a drug that has been previously approved for use by the FDA.

Opioid use and dependence has become an alarming issue in a number of states, with Massachusetts as an example of one where state government officials have stepped in to combat the growing problem. On March 27 Governor Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency [press release] in the state, as a response to 140 deaths in recent months that have been linked to suspected heroin overdoses. Patrick also directed the state's Department of Public Health (DPH) [official website] to take several steps to combat the growing opioid problem, including allowing emergency first responders to begin carrying and administering the controversial opioid antagonist Naloxone. When administered in a timely fashion, Naloxone is able to reverse a heroin overdose in order to save an individual's life. DPH will also mandate physician and pharmacy use of a prescription reporting system that was previously voluntary, in order to help curb the prevalent abuse and misuse of opioids.

About Paper Chase

Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

© Copyright JURIST Legal News and Research Services, Inc., 2013.