DEA Toughens Rules for Hydrocodone Combination Products

The Drug Enforcement Administration has recently made it more difficult to obtain drugs that contain hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is the most frequently-prescribed painkiller in the US, with prescriptions reaching over 137 million in 2013. After conducting an extensive evaluation, the DEA concluded that the high potential for abuse, dependence and harm associated with Hydrocodone Combination Products (HCPs) – drugs containing hydrocodone and another substance such as acetaminophen or aspirin – have justified their transfer to a more restrictive category under the Controlled Substances Act. According to the CDC, prescription drug overdoses accounted for about 60% of all drug overdoses in 2010. 75% of the prescription drug overdoses were due to opioid drugs containing oxycodone, hydrocodone or methadone.

The “rescheduling” imposes different controls and sanctions on pharmaceuticals containing hydrocodone. For instance, doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions over the phone and patients will no longer be allowed to get refills without a new prescription.

This shift in policy is in line with the results of the most recent CoLAP Comprehensive Survey in which Lawyer Assistance Programs reported that prescription drugs were the second most commonly-abused substance they see after alcohol.

You can access the new rule here.

You can access a recent NYTimes article on the change here.

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