FDA Seeks Hydrocodone Painkiller Limits
U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeks to tighten restrictions on hydrocodone painkiller limits in an effort to reduce access to what has become one of the top two most abused prescription pain medicines in the country. Hydrocodone painkiller medications include Vicodin, and are in the opioid family of drugs, which includes methadone, morphine, heroin, codeine, and oxycodone.
A panel of drug safety experts recommends the reclassification of hydrocodone painkillers as a schedule II drug, which would change how physicians can prescribe the pain killer, and how often the prescription could be refilled. Currently, hydrocodone is a schedule III drug, for which prescriptions can be filled five times before a patient has to see his physician. As a schedule II drug, a patient could be prescribed a single 3-month supply of the drug. Also, the change would prevent physician assistants or nurses from prescribing the drug.
Tougher Access to Hydrocodone Painkillers
The Drug Enforcement Agency is supporting the reclassification of Hydrocodone Painkiller Limits, and the panel voted 19 to 10 in favor of the change. Panelists who voted for the change believe the tighter restrictions will help curb the widespread abuse of the Hydrocodone Painkillers. Those who voted against the reclassification point to oxycodone, the second most abused prescription pain killer in the US, as an example of how a new classification is not an answer. Opponents also argue that the tighter restrictions will make it far more difficult for those who use the drug as intended to access the drug by creating multiple obstacles for them and their doctors. According to the New York Times, only written prescriptions could be accepted by a pharmacy, and without one, patients would not be able to refill their hydrocodone prescriptions. Advocates say the reclassifications will make it harder for those in rural areas, as well as nursing home residents, who would have to travel to see their physicians. Both sides agreed however, that “patients who need the medications for pain should not suffer inappropriate barriers to access because of the change.”
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