Created on: January 28, 2013
Last week the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel made a recommendation to the federal agency to reclassify the painkiller Vicodin in order to curb addiction and overdose. Hydrocodone is the active ingredient in the painkiller.
The panel's vote was 19-10 in favor of reclassifying hydrocodone.
According to JS Online, if the FDA goes along with the panel's recommendation to reclassify hydrocodone, the control guidelines on Vicodin would be much stricter. It would be considered to be in the same category as other highly abused prescription narcotics, such as OxyContin and fentanyl.
Vicodin's new classification if approved
Vicodin, a popular narcotic painkiller, is often prescribed by doctors to patients dealing with moderate to high pain levels of pain. If the FDA agrees to the change, Vicodin will be moved from its current Schedule III classification to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.
Schedule II is the most restrictive category for pharmaceutical drugs that are classified as having acceptable medical use.
Effect on patients
If the FDA panel's recommendations are approved and adopted, patients would be limited in the number of hydrocodone pills that could be dispensed at one time, and refills would also be more regulated. "In addition, pharmacies would have to follow stricter procedures for handling and storing the drug", reported the Los Angeles Times.
Only doctors will be able to prescribe hydrocodone drugs under the newly proposed rules, and nurse practitioners and physician assistants will no longer be permitted to write prescriptions for drugs such as Vicodin.
Additionally, patients will have to schedule a doctor's visit in order to get a new prescription once the old expires; doctors will no longer be able to call in new prescriptions, reported NPR.
Reason for the recommended reclassification
Vicodin is considered to be highly addictive and there have reportedly been enough overdoses to warrant attention.
"I believe that this change will mark a turning point in the epidemic," said Dr. Andrew Kolodny of the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., reported NPR. "It will lead to less people becoming addicted, which is the most important thing that needs to happen to bring this crisis under control."
Opponents, however, are concerned with the impact such a change might have on those individuals who live with chronic pain.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Vicodin is the most prescribed drug in the United States and the majority of supply is mostly used in the U.S.
At this time it is uncertain when the FDA will make a final ruling on the proposal.
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