Controversial New Pain Killer
A new, FDA-approved prescription drug called Zohydro was released recently to treat chronic pain. It is the first approved medication to contain only the opioid hydrocodone, with no acetaminophen, and currently, it does not have any tamper-resistant technologies to deter misuse or abuse. Many fear that the drug, which is reportedly 10 times stronger than Vicodin, is too dangerous in its current form. Lawmakers in the state of Massachusetts have already banned the sale of the drug due to concerns about its abuse potential.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths due to opioid overdose have more than tripled during the last decade. The Doctors are joined by pain management specialist Dr. Gregory A. Smith to debate whether the drug’s benefits to Americans living in chronic pain are worth the potential risks.
“About 90 percent of the prescription narcotics that are used for nonmedical reasons … they get them from friends, relatives, family, going through people’s medicine cabinets,” Dr. Smith explains. “So, even though we can’t be the drug police, the reason why you don’t want to have drugs like this on the market with no anti-abuse mechanisms is because, ultimately, they’re going to end up in somebody’s medicine cabinet. These are the dangers and this is why this drug needs to be recalled until it has anti-abuse mechanisms put in the pill.”
Dr. Travis emphasizes that if you are suffering with chronic pain, talk to your doctor about a multimodal treatment approach to help limit the use of prescription pain killers and reduce your risk of becoming dependent.
• Learn more about prescription drug dangers.
Mom Fights Rare Skin Cancer
Three years ago, Carrie, 42, noticed a small bump on her hairline that she thought was either an ingrown hair or a pimple. Initially, her doctor said it was most likely a sebaceous cyst. When the bump began to grow and bleed, Carrie sought a second opinion from her dermatologist, who quickly diagnosed her with a rare form of skin cancer.
Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans (DFSP) is a soft tissue cancer that develops in the deep layers of the skin. It affects only one to five out of a million people in the United States, and usually begins as a small, firm patch of skin that can be either purplish, reddish or flesh-colored. Although it’s most commonly found on the torso, DFSP can also develop on the arms, legs, head and neck. Carrie’s DFSP is considered a rarity within a rarity due to its development on her hairline.
Though faced with a life-threatening diagnosis, Carrie, a mother of two, remained positive. “I decided that I was going to live through this with grace, dignity, character and strength,” she says. “No matter what, I was going to smile.”
Beating Joe Bully
When Gavin, 7, was only five years old, his parents began to notice odd changes in his behavior and his ability to use his eyes normally. They took him to the doctor and learned that Gavin had a benign, golf ball-sized tumor in the center of his brain.
Several craniotomies and rounds of chemotherapy were unsuccessful at deterring the growth of Gavin’s life-threatening tumor, which he nicknamed “Joe Bully.”
Desperate for a solution to save their son's life, Gavin’s parents, Steve and Nicole, agreed to a cutting-edge laser treatment that would be able to target the tumor without damaging the surrounding healthy brain tissue.
Learn more about the procedure, and see how Gavin is doing today.
Amputee Drummer Never Misses a Beat
Jason, 24, received his first drum set at the age of 15, and his passion for music has grown ever since. His ability to express his musical talent was threatened, however, after he was electrocuted while working at his day job. Approximately 28,000 volts of electricity ran through Jason’s body, blowing out his right hand and burning his face, back and torso. His doctors said he was lucky it didn’t stop his heart.
After the accident, doctors told Jason that if he kept his right hand, he’d be in chronic pain for the rest of his life and would have no mobility in the appendage. Jason then made the difficult decision to have his right hand amputated.
“There were days when I just wanted to die. I did not want to be alive anymore,” he says.
Jason’s passion for music wasn’t to be deterred, however, and a few weeks after the surgery, he obtained a prosthetic that allowed him minimal functioning, including being able to hold a drumstick.