A U.S. Food and Drug Administration Panel is deciding whether some prescription painkillers should have tougher restrictions. The panel is meeting January 24-25 to discuss painkillers containing hydrocodone, like Vicodin, and whether to reclassify them in a more tightly-regulated category. Drugs like Vicodin are currently Schedule III but may be classified as Schedule II—a category containing opioid painkillers like Oxycontin and Percocet.
Those who support tougher restrictions note that misuse of the prescription drugs has lead to overdoses and suicides. Others argue that people who need the painkillers will no longer be able to access them. Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, said tighter restrictions “in no way jeopardizes access.” Rather, patients who used to be able to get six months work of prescription drugs would now only be able to get three months of prescription drugs. Patients who are prescribed hydrocodone medications typically use only one-third of the medication, suggesting that the pill is overprescribed and then available for misuse.
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