FDA Calls for Further Restrictions on Hydrocodone Painkillers
On Thursday, October 24th, the DEA requested that the FDA place hydrocodone under the same restrictions as other prescription painkillers.
Hydrocodone and Proposed Regulations
- In 2011, more than 131 million prescriptions were filled by doctors in the United States for 47 million patients, nearly 5 billion pills according to the New York Times.
- Currently, hydrodocone is classified as a Schedule III medication, but the proposed changes would make the drug a Schedule II medication in December, a class that includes opioid painkillers like oxycodone, methadone and fentanyl, drugs that have the highest potential for abuse.
- Regulations would reduce the current 90 day supply to 45 days before a patient would need a new prescription for a refill.
High Risk of Painkiller Abuse among Men and Women
- According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of prescription painkiller deaths among women in the United States increased five times between 1999 and 2010; comparatively the rate for males increased by 3.5 times.
- Advocates in Congress, such as Senator Joe Manchin have advocated for more restrictions on prescription painkillers, noting that such acts would prevent the drugs from passing the wrong hands and ruining the lives of families and communities through preventable deaths.
- However, the National Community Pharmacists Association has stated that restrictions may provide hardships for many patients through delay of access and could also add further burdens upon workers in the healthcare industry.
- Although hydrocodone is used to treat chronic back pain, arthritis and toothaches, the addictive nature of the drug would likely cause it to be under further regulations in 2014, according to Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.
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