DEA Blames Doctors for Pill Epidemic
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Abuse of prescription pain pills is at an all-time high in the US and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is pointing fingers at the medical community for overprescribing "hydrocodone combinations" (painkillers such as Vicodin which contain highly-addictive hydrocodone). “This drug has got a hold of this society and it’s killing us,” says Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator in the DEA’s office of diversion control. “There’s so many prescriptions out there and I’ll tell you why. The medical community, in my humble opinion, is not taking this drug seriously.” The DEA has requested to limit prescriptions of hydrocodone combination pills and cough suppressants to a 90-day supply instead of the current five refills within six months, as well as to ban physician assistants and nurse practitioners from prescribing the products. But the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is debating these restrictions. “I think it’s obvious the two agencies have a disagreement,” says Rannazzisi. “They don’t have the luxury of seeing what I see.” ER visits related to hydrocodone reached 115,739 in 2010, more than double the number from 2004, according to a recent report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.