In an effort to reduce access to the one of the most abused prescription pain killers in America, and Hydrocodone drug addiction, the FDA considers reclassifying hydrocodone as a schedule II drug to limit Hydrocodone Drug Access. The tighter restrictions will have a big impact on patients, physicians, and distributors.
In 1970, hydrocodone drugs were classified as schedule III drugs. Medications in that classification can be refilled five times before the patient needs a prescription from their doctor. They can also be given by physician assistants and nurses. The new restrictions, voted on last month by a panel of drug safety experts, would reclassify hydrocodone containing drugs as schedule II drug, putting hydrocodone in the same class as oxycodone and morphine, all of which belong to the opioid family that also includes codeine, heroin, and methadone. Hoping to limit the high rate of Hydrocodone drug access and Hydrocodone drug addiction,
Opponents of the change include Dr. John Mendelson of St. Luke’s Hospital in San Francisco who said “If prescribing decreases, illicit opioid use will increase, with dire consequences. I think this is a mistake and we will be back here with other problems.” A statement by the National Community of Pharmacists Association said, “Rescheduling the product to Schedule II would create significant hardships for all – leading to delayed access for vulnerable patients with legitimate chronic pain,” ABC News reports.
The panel voted 19 to 10 in favor of the reclassification of hydrocodone. Dr. Andrew Kolodny president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, and the chairman of psychiatry at Maimonides Medical Center in New York said tighter restrictions “may be the single most important intervention undertaken at the federal level to bring the epidemic under control. This is about correcting a mistake made 40 years ago that’s had disastrous consequences,” the New York Times reports.
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, also requested tougher restrictions, saying “When I go back to West Virginia, I hear how easy it is for anybody to get their hands on hydrocodone drugs. For under-age children, these drugs are easier to get than beer or cigarettes.” However, some opponents say that those in rural areas, as well as frail, elderly nursing home residents would be unduly burdened by the change as it would force them to make more frequent trips to see their physicians to get new prescriptions. Others questioned the efficacy of the change, saying that oxycodone is a schedule II drug and is one of the top two most abused prescription pain killers in the country.
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