At prescription drug abuse conference, U.S. Rep. Keating criticizes FDA's approval of Zohydro

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision to approve Zohydro, a potent and controversial painkiller, was "outrageous" and will have "long-lasting, devastating effects" across the nation, U.S. Rep. William Keating said Wednesday during a national conference on prescription drug abuse in Atlanta.

"Why do you need a super drug like that that's going to be five times more powerful than Vicodin?" Keating said after his remarks to about 1,100 clinicians, addiction counselors, pharmacists, policy makers and other officials from across the country.

The controversy over Zohydro - which the FDA approved last October despite its clinician advisory panel voting 11-2 against it - has hovered over this week's third annual Rx Drug Abuse Prevention Summit.

Twenty-eight states' attorneys general have written letters protesting the FDA's decision to approve Zohydro, which contains up to five times the amount of narcotic hydrocodone previously available in pills.

U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers of Kentucky told summit attendees that he requested U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder investigate the matter. Keating said lawmakers have also called for an inspector general's investigation.

"Is money from pharmaceutical companies influencing this? We need an answer to that," Keating said.

(This article originally appeared in theĀ Boston Herald)