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.
However, the FDA approved painkiller Zohydro ER on Friday which packs up to 10 times more narcotic than Vicodin without the acetaminophen component.
Fox 9 medical expert Dr. Archelle Georgiou explains the reasoning behind the FDA's recommendations to restrict painkiller prescriptions and why the newly approved painkiller Zohydro was approved despite previous backlash.
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.
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.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.