TODAY   |  February 27, 2014

Critics fear new painkiller’s ‘frightening’ potency

A group of health care, consumer and addiction treatment groups is urging the FDA to revoke the approval of the prescription drug Zohydro. Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News’ chief medical editor, joins TODAY to discuss the pill.

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>> one addiction expert says this drug will kill people as soon as it's released. dr. nancy snyderman is our medical editor. what is it about this particular drug that has so many health professionals concerned in.

>> this drug packs a wallop. it has tn times more codeine than a typical vicodin. perhaps it the drug delivery system that needs help, not a bigger amount of the narcotic. this is a lot like oxycodone. and this pill in particular can be crushed, which raises the possibility of snorting it and ingesting it. since we've seen drug deaths from opiods have quadrupled, i was surprised to see this go forward.

>> one emergency room physician said i'm talking about a drug sometimes in the neighborhood five times more potent than the what we're dealing with now and i'm five times more concerned.

>> the drug manufacturer says people don't start with these medications as gate way drugs. but that's not the issue. medication that can be crushed and so easily accessible i think has professionals across the board concerned.