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Veterans upset after FDA approves new, powerful opioid

Posted: 2:55 PM, Dec 11, 2018
Updated: 2018-12-11 20:55:12Z

More than 100 people die from opioid overdoses every day. Amid the opioid crisis, a newly FDA-approved opioid called Dsuvia could soon be hitting the market, and it’s said to be more powerful than morphine and fentanyl.

Dsuvia was designed, in part, to help soldiers on the battlefield.

For Navy veteran Rich Shock, a back injury turned out to be far worse than anything he experienced in Iraq and Iran. 

“At first, started with Vicodin and then it became Norco, and then they doubled the dose of Norco, and then it became Norco with Oxycontin,” describes Shock of his prescribed medication.  

As his tolerance and dosage got higher, he started doctor shopping until they cut him off. That's when a friend offered him heroin. 

“He's like, ‘I'm telling you. It's cheaper. It's easier to find and it lasts longer.’ And he was right. He was absolutely right,” says Shock. 

The addiction cost him everything, including his job, his family and his home. 

He said he had one thought.  

“How did I get this bad? Like, how did I end up here? After everything. You know I have a wife and a family and a good job,” Shock says. 

Veterans are twice as likely to suffer from opioid addiction, according to a United States Department of Veterans Affairs health system study. That's one reason behind the outrage over the FDA’s approval of the new, powerful painkiller.

Dsuvia is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 10 times more than fentanyl. It's restricted for use only in battlefields and emergency rooms for patients suffering tremendous pain from traumatic injuries.

Even still, the chairman of the committee that reviewed the drug, did not want it approved for fears it will be abused. 

“I think that this the approval of this drug represents a failure of their most fundamental duties, and I think the veterans are [going to] pay for it with their lives,” says Brenton Huston, with Volunteers of America Veteran Support and Services. 

Hutson is a Marine who works with veterans.

“There are already other drugs out there, less addictive, less potent that are also taken that way,” Hutson says. “So, there's really just no need for it.”

Shock fought his way out of addiction, but he fears what could happen with a much more powerful drug. 

“With the opiate problem we have right now, why would you want to manufacture a drug that stronger? It doesn't make any sense to me,” Shock says. 

To help prevent abuse, the FDA is putting tight restrictions on Dsuvia. It won't be sold in retail pharmacies or be available for outpatient use, and it cannot be used for more than 72 hours.