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Zohydro maker sues to block ban

BOSTON — The maker of Zohydro, a controversial new prescription painkiller, has filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to block Massachusetts’ ban on local doctors prescribing and dispensing the drug.

Zogenix filed suit in U.S. District Court in Massachusetts on Monday requesting that the court temporarily stop Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s executive order. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, according to court records.

The San Diego-based company argues in its lawsuit that Governor Patrick’s order is at odds with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which approved use of Zohydro for severe pain in October. Law enforcement and public health officials fear the powerful painkiller could worsen the nation’s deadly scourge of heroin and prescription drug abuse.

In March, Governor Patrick declared a public health emergency in response to the state’s growing epidemic of heroin and opioid addiction. As part of that announcement, the governor gave the state public health commissioner certain emergency powers, including banning Zohydro “until determined that adequate measures are in place to safeguard against the potential for diversion, overdose, and misuse.”

The ban is an “impermissible” effort by Massachusetts to set its own drug policy, Zogenix says in its suit. “It impedes the FDA’s Congressional mandate to approve a range of safe treatments to promote the public health.” The company said the lawsuit comes after a written request to meet with Patrick went unanswered. The state Department of Public Health said Monday that it is reviewing the complaint.

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