New Hurdles for Vicodin Access


The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has long pushed for elevating Vicodin (hydrocodone) from a Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II classification.  Donna Leger writing in USA Today reports that chances are good that the Food and Drug Administration will finally grant the DEA’s request.

At first glance this seems to be an easy call. The Center for Disease Control  reports that opioid painkillers (such as Vicodin and OxyContin) cause 75% of prescription drug overdoses so something is clearly not working.  As a Schedule III drug, patients can get a six month supply without ongoing doctor visits. There is less oversight, reporting and security. Incredibly, last year 137 million prescriptions were written for hydrocodone- based painkillers.  And in 2010 there were almost 120,000 emergency room visits involving hydrocodone.

As a Schedule II drug, doctors could write only a 30-day supply, record keeping and security would need to be increased and more actual doctor follow-ups/examinations/drug testing would be mandated. This will obviously increase costs and unfortunately be a burden to the millions of people who are not abusers but, as always, those who follow the rules are inconvenienced by those who don’t.

At OMCA, we don’t have regulatory or enforcement powers to combat opioid abuse.  However, our physician-reviewers and nurse case managers are on the front lines every day trying to stem the tide of abuse through education, peer to peer  involvement, and the application of evidence based medicine.

Call Us. We can do better.

William Faris, JD
Chief Executive Officer

Posted in Bill's Favorite Files, OMCA