Drug developer Zogenix shares increased 4 percent in pre-market trading Wednesday after it announced that its chronic pain treatment performed well in a study. Zogenix will submit an application for approval for Zohydro to the FDA by early 2012.

The company said that the capsules, which release pain medicine over time, dramatically improved chronic pain compared to a placebo pill containing no medicine. The drug was also found to be safe and tolerable; many pain medicines cause nausea, especially at high doses. Zohydro is used to treat moderate-to-severe chronic pain requiring 24-hour therapy.

Zogenix said that it will become the first extended-release hydrocodone treatment with no acetaminophen, which has been known to cause liver damage at high doses. 

Zogenix said that more than 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone pain products were filled last year, and that it can dramatically improve patient outcome due to the absence of acetaminophen in Zohydro.

The downside? Metro New York reported Aug. 18 that New York City has doubled its use of prescription painkillers since 2007, New York City prosecutors said. This is an alarming trend as addictions to painkillers are difficult to treat. Furthermore, prescription painkiller use can often lead to heroin addiction, even when the drug is used to treat actual pain. 

"Drugs like Vicodin, oxycodone, Percocet, they're extremely appealing," Dr. Arnold Washton, director of Midtown-based drug treatment center Recovery Option, told Metro New York.  "The drugs work very well and foster the illusion that one can go through life without anxiety and pain."