FDA Advises Limits on Vicodin

The battle against the illegal use of prescription medications continues. The federal government wants increased restriction and drug enforcement agencies want access to the tools to keep these drugs off the streets.

According to a NPR report, a recommendation has come down from the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee to place new restrictions on prescription painkillers, including Vicodin. Recommendations include changing the way controlled substances containing opioid hydrocodone are classified.

If the agency accepts these recommendations, which is likely but not required, the medication would receive more stringent regulation. Essentially, it would fall under Schedule II regulation, moving from Schedule III.

This change would bring with it a variety of new restrictions, including the limitation of a 30-day supply, the elimination of the call-in prescription and the ban on physician assistants and nurse practitioners writing the script.

For many, the proposed change could mean a break in what has been labeled an epidemic in the U.S. An increasing number of individuals have developed a dependence on prescription painkillers. Without stringent guidelines in place, these individuals are able to too easily feed their addiction by working the system.

Pain specialists are not as exuberant about the proposed restrictions, however. Through the American Academy of Pain Medicine, they have expressed their concern that the new restrictions will do more to hurt those suffering with chronic pain than to curb abuse. They believe the medication will be more difficult for the legitimate patient to acquire, and more costly.

The FDA did reject a similar request for a change in 2008 and representatives have said they will consider all facts.

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The Pain of Addiction

Vicodin addiction often starts innocently enough. Most people start taking Vicodin or other pain medications after surgery or an injury. But then they can’t stop. They need more to get the same pain relief. They start doctor shopping to get more pills. And the cycle continues until it takes over their lives.