FDA wants limits on hydrocodone-containing painkillers - KMSP-TV

FDA wants limits on hydrocodone-containing painkillers

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The Food and Drug Administration is recommending new restrictions on prescription painkillers containing hydrocodone that would match the restrictions of other narcotic painkillers like morphine and oxycodone.

MOST PRESCRIBED DRUG IN AMERICA

According to government figures, American doctors wrote more than 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone in 2011, making it the most prescribed drug in the U.S.

Since it is only sold in combinations with non-addictive ingredients like aspirin and acetaminophen, hydrocodone has been easier to prescribe.

Hydrocodone is found in drugs like Vicodin and dozens of generics. It's in the opioid family, which includes heroin, codeine and methadone.

HIGHLY ABUSED

The FDA recommendation comes more than 10 years after the Drug Enforcement Agency first asked for a reclassification of hydrocodone to match other addictive painkillers.

Hydrocodone ranks as the most or second-most-abused prescription drug in the U.S. each year, according to the DEA.

According to the CDC, prescription painkiller overdose deaths among women increased about 500 percent between 1999 and 2010. Among men, such deaths rose about 350 percent. The rise in overdose death rates has been linked to the high use and abuse rates of prescription painkillers.

WHAT WILL CHANGE?

The FDA will make a formal request in December to rescheduled hydrocodone as a Schedule II narcotic, meaning patients will only be able to receive one 90-day prescription. The drug could also not be prescribed by nurses and physician assistants

The FDA recommendation comes more than 10 years after the Drug Enforcement Agency first asked for a reclassification of hydrocodone to match other addictive painkillers.

WHAT THEY'RE SAYING

"The FDA's reported decision will likely pose significant hardships for many patients and delay relief for vulnerable patients with legitimate chronic pain, especially those in nursing home and long-term care." - Kevin Schweers, National Community Pharmacists Association spokesman

"A tremendous step forward in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic…Rescheduling hydrocodone from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug will help prevent these highly addictive drugs from getting into the wrong hands and devastating families and communities." - Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)

"Each day that passes means rising abuse, and even death, at the hands of hydrocodone-based drugs." – Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.)

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report

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