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Hydrocodone is Reclassified in Dangerous Oxycodone Category

The popular painkiller hydrocodone is undergoing a change in regulation. Going forward, it is going to be much more difficult for patients to refill their prescriptions. Medicines that are usually prescribed that include this therapeutic painkiller are often prescribed after surgery and injury. The latest round of restrictions that were imposed by the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is aimed at curbing the tide of new hydrocodone addicts. As a result, it has entered the regulatory ranks of such notoriously addictive therapeutics as oxycodone and codeine, which both previously set a historical precedent for abuse and addiction potential.

Those who oppose this new change argue that patients who truly need the drug are effectively being punished for the misuse and abuse of the drug by the small minority of people who do not need it. They argue that the changes will be most noticeable for those who live in rural areas, nursing homes, and for those who have pain associated with cancer.

Those who advocate for this new strict regulation point out that the drugs that include hydrocodone include Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco, and that these collectively comprise 130 million annual prescriptions. This means that millions of Americans are getting their hands on dangerous and addictive drugs. Additionally, this will not eliminate the drug’s availability, but will rather require a specialized prescription.

The changes include the following:

  • Patients will have to see doctors to get a refill.
  • Doctor’s assistants and nurses will not be allowed to prescribe hydrocodone drugs.
  • Patients will be allowed a limited supply.

For some of those who suffer from chronic pain and who need the medication, it may become harder to attain. Although this will prevent some from abusing its easy accessibility, it will pose an additional challenge to others, including the patients themselves, as well as their healthcare professionals such as their doctors and pharmacists. The requirement of a handwritten prescription that is not faxed, and the limit on refills, will force doctors to truly consider whether the prescription is necessary, and will limit the amount of unnecessary re-attainment of the drug the patients are able to achieve. This will ultimately reduce the number of people who abuse the drug.

The new rule is designed to encourage second thoughts about the use of these serious medications for the treatment of pain and other medical disorders. They are designed to make doctors think about the consequences of their pain medication prescriptions, and to encourage a conscious effort.

Unfortunately, change like this may allow for the development of a larger hydrocodone black market, where the empty supply is picked up by drug dealers, and the DEA is sure to be on the lookout for such after effects. Additionally, it might be possible that people will turn to self-medication with other substances.

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