White House Clamps Down on Narcotic Drug Prescriptions

White House Clamps Down on Narcotic Drug Prescriptions

By McCarton Ackerman 08/25/14

Hydrocodone combination drugs like Vicodin will be reclassified in an effort to reduce drug abuse.

Image: 
Shutterstock

The Obama administration has recently made an attempt to help put a stop to widespread prescription drug abuse by restricting prescriptions of some of the most common narcotic painkillers.

It was confirmed last Thursday by the Drug Enforcement Administration that hydrocodone combination drugs such as Vicodin would be reclassified. The new change will go into effect at the beginning of October.

Such drugs will now be put in the category for medical substances that have the highest potential for harm, which means that users can now only obtain 90-day prescriptions before receiving a new batch. Prescriptions for hydrocodone combination drugs can currently cover a 180-day period and can be refilled up to five times.

Although hydrocodone has been labeled as a Schedule II drug for decades, the combination drugs have been mired in the Schedule III category. The new change also means that patients will need to have a written prescription to pick up drugs and doctors can no longer phone orders in for patients.

"Almost seven million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, resulting in more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than auto accidents," said DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart in a statement. "Today's action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”

A report released this May by the National Institute of Drug Abuse confirmed that more than 100 people in the U.S. die each day from prescription drug overdoses, making them more deadly than car accidents, guns, and suicides. With more than five million Americans abusing painkillers each year, the U.S. is responsible for 75% of global drug use.

The problem has even extended to senior citizens, with emergency room visits related to misuse of medication doubling between 2007-2011 for those over the age of 55. “There's this growing group of seniors, they have pain, they have anxiety…and a lot of (doctors) have one thing in their tool box—a prescription pad,” said Mel Pohl, director of the Las Vegas Recovery Center. "The doctor wants to make their life better, so they start on the meds.”