The abuse of prescription painkillers is as much of, if not more of a problem, than the abuse of street drugs. With the mistaken belief that these drugs are safer because they are legal with a prescription, many people abuse them and end up dead. HealthDay reported on Oct. 24, 2013, "FDA Urges Tighter Controls on Certain Prescription Painkillers." This is a step in the right direction towards cracking down on the abuse of
The Foundation for a Drug Free World writes that although the use of many street drugs has been declining in the US, the abuse of prescription drugs has been growing. In fact, among teens prescription drugs are the most commonly used drugs next to marijuana. Just about half of the teens abusing prescription drugs take painkillers.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to try to crack down on this problem and has recommended tighter controls on prescriptions for painkillers such as Vicodin and Lortab, which contain the powerful narcotic hydrocodone. The FDA has said such a change would cut in half the number of refills which patients can get before seeing their doctor for a new prescription. Furthermore, under these proposed changes patients also will have to take their prescription to their pharmacy in order to have it filled, instead of having a doctor call it in.
Furthermore, the FDA has announced that it will also request in mid-December that all prescription medications which contain hydrocodone be reclassified as "Schedule II" medications. Schedule II drugs are subject to strict control and include narcotics with a high potential for abuse, such as OxyContin, methadone, fentanyl, Adderall and Ritalin. Epidemic levels of prescription drug abuse in the United States have prompted the FDA to act on this problem.
The number of people using prescription drugs for non-medical purposes has been alarming. According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, one out of every five Americans has used prescription drugs for non-medical purposes at some time. About 22 million Americans have abused prescription painkillers since 2002. In 2011 approximately 131 million prescriptions for medications containing hydrocodone were issued to about 47 million patients. New regulations to tighten controls over potentially dangerous painkillers are a good idea to help lower the incidence of abuse of these drugs.