Hydrocodone, a powerful narcotic painkiller found in frequently prescribed pain medications such as Vicodin, may soon fall under new restrictions. These new restrictions would include limiting the amount of refills for the drug. According to the Denver Post on Oct. 25, the FDA wants tighter controls on this drug, which would mean reclassifying hydrocodone to fall under the same rules, regulations and restrictions as the narcotic pain medications like oxycodone and morphine.
Hydrocodone is the nation’s most prescribed pain-killing medication and this drug has less restrictions on it than other narcotic pain medication. The FDA is looking to have the drug Hydrocodone reclassified as a Schedule II drug, which would limit the type of medical professional who could write a prescription for the drug. Today a physician’s assistant and nurse practitioners can write a prescription for hydrocodone in some states. If hydrocodone is reclassified to a Schedule II, only a doctor can write a prescription for the pain medication.
If hydrocodone does get classified as a Schedule II drug, this would mean the pain medication could no longer be called in as a prescription to a pharmacy. The pharmacy would need a “hard-copy” of the prescription, which is the actual paper prescription the doctor writes out.
If hydrocodone does get reclassified to a Schedule II narcotic drug, refills would be limited. A doctor could no longer give up to five refills without seeing the patient in between those refills. This is something a doctor can do today with hydrocodone under the classification of a Schedule III narcotic drug. Under the proposed Schedule II classification for hydrocodone, a patient can only receive only one 90-day prescription with no refills.
The FDA is expected to make this formal request to have hydrocodone reclassified in December and it will have to be approved by various officials in other agencies within the Department of Health and Human Services. The FDA is seeing both encouragement and criticism for their decision to do this.
States where prescription drug abuse is running rampant has their lawmakers applauding the FDA’s decision to have hydrocodone reclassified. Criticism from some professional groups cite burdening health care workers and patients by reclassifying this drug. What do you think?