Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Hydrocodone combination painkillers (HCPs) such as Vicodin and Norco are now classified as Schedule II narcotics in the revised Controlled Substances Act (CSA) announced by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on Thursday.
The reclassification of the said painkillers from Schedule III subject them to tighter restrictions due to their addictive nature. Doctors will no longer be able to prescribe them by phone and patients will not be allowed to get refills on the same prescription. A new prescription will have to be obtained to get refills. Likewise, the drug will have to be kept in special vaults in pharmacies.
The CSA has five schedules of substances. Schedule I covers substances with no currently accepted medical use and lack of accepted safety for use, such as LSD and heroin. Schedule II are medical substances with the highest potential for harm and abuse. Schedules III, IV and V include substances with progressively less potential for harm and abuse.
“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, “Today’s action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”
HCPs are drugs that contain both hydrocodone, which by itself is a Schedule II drug, and specified amounts of other substances, such as acetaminophen or aspirin.
Deaths from prescription drug overdoses have more than tripled since the late 1990s. Prescription drugs account for the majority of all U.S. drug overdose deaths.
Many HCP dependents are being treated in addiction rehabilitation clinics across the country. Many rehab clinics provide the traditional therapy while new treatment methods like the Start Fresh Program (SFP) are being provided in other clinics.
The innovative SFP (www.startfreshprogram.com) also intended to treat alcoholics uses naltrexone implants to stop patients’ craving for opioids or alcohol and provide life coaching sessions while under medication.
BioCorRx Inc.’s (OTCQB: BICX) developed and licenses the SFP to rehab clinics across the country.
The rescheduling of HCPs was initiated by a petition from a physician in 1999. The DEA submitted a request to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for a scientific and medical evaluation of HCPs and a scheduling recommendation.
In 2013, the U. S. Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing on the matter and voted 19-10 to recommend rescheduling HCPs from Schedule III to Schedule II. In December of 2013, HHS sent such a recommendation to the DEA. Two months later, on Feb. 27, the DEA informed Americans of its intent to move HCPs from Schedule III to Schedule II by publishing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register, outlining its rationale and the proposed changes in detail and soliciting public comments on the proposal, of which almost 600 were received.