DEA Will Restrict Prescription Painkiller Use

DEA Issues Rules to Restrict Prescription Painkiller Use to Curb Abuse

restrict prescription painkiller useOn Thursday, August 21st, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it would restrict prescription painkiller use in the US in order to curb the use of some of the most common rising problem of narcotic drug abuse.

After months of debate, the DEA will officially reclassify hydrocodone combination drugs like Vicodin, and put them in Schedule II substances, a group considered extremely addictive and dangerous. Hydrocodone is an opioid painkiller, much like oxycodone and related prescription painkillers. However, hydrocodone, which is the active ingredient in popular prescription painkillers like Vicodin, has previously been classified as Schedule III, which allows doctors to prescribe the medication without numerous followup visits to re-prescribe. This allows patients with serious chronic pain problems to have better access to a painkiller that will work.

By reclassifying hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug, the DEA will limit access to the powerful painkiller, allowing pharmacists to track refills and doctors to see the patients more frequently, to discuss and diagnose on-going pain management problems and potential addiction.

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

“If you’re treating someone with a condition so painful they require treatment with a highly addictive drug, that’s someone who should be monitored closely,” said Andrew Kolodny, chief medical officer for the nonprofit addiction treatment organization Phoenix House, who campaigned for the change for five years.

Critics, however, are concerned that if they restrict prescription painkiller use it will mean that people with chronic pain disorders will have much less access to drugs that manage their pain and allow them to live their lives. David Belian, a spokesman for Actavis PLC, said in an interview that the change “will place a significant burden on patients, the vast majority of whom use them in a legitimate manner.”

Prescription painkiller addiction and overdose has increased rapidly in the US, and has raised concerns that addicts will switch to heroin when their supply of prescription painkillers runs dry. States across the country have cracked down on pill mills – doctors’ offices that exist to feed painkiller addiction – and implemented prescription tracking databases to help ward off prescription painkiller addictions. Still, addicts can often find someone in their circle of family or friends who has undergone surgery recently, or who has a chronic health condition which requires a painkiller prescription, and steal pills.

Last year, South Carolina ranked 10th in the nation for prescription painkiller abuse and addiction – 33% higher than the national average. In 2011, the state reported 225 deaths related to painkiller and prescription drug abuse, which is 23rd in the nation.

Around 22 million Americans have misused prescription painkillers since 2002.

The Strom Law Firm Protects Against Prescription Painkiller Abuse Charges

Being arrested for prescription painkiller abuse is something that can be devastating financially and emotionally, and can have long-lasting personal and professional consequences. We understand what you are going through, and we are here to help. We will investigate your case from every angle, determine whether an illegal search took place and seek to have your charges reduced or even dismissed. We offer free, confidential consultations to discuss the facts of your case, so call us today at 803.252.4800.

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