The Food and Drug Administration is planning to recommend prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin and others containing hydrocodone, be reclassified as “Schedule II” substances from their current “Schedule III” status – imposing tougher restrictions on how they are used and prescribed.
OxyContin, defined as “potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence” by the Drug Enforcement Administration, has already been placed in the Schedule II category.
Increase In Hydrocodone Painkiller Abuse
The agency has explained the move in a recent statement; having become “increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reach epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States.”
Requests from the DEA to reclassify the substances have been longstanding, citing increased rates of addiction and overdose throughout the U.S.
Patients and pain specialists argue that the new restrictions would make obtaining the drugs more difficult for individuals struggling with debilitating, chronic pain – increasing suffering for those who use the substances properly.
Balancing Valid Painkiller Use With Abuse And Misuse
The FDA touched on the debate, stating that it “has been challenged with determining how to balance the need to ensure continued access to those patients who rely on continuous pain relief while addressing the ongoing concerns about abuse and misuse.”
The reclassification would not allow physicians to call prescriptions into local pharmacies. It would also lower the number of refills afforded to patients without additional doctor visits.
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