FDA panel wants limits on hydrocodone painkillers

Federal health advisors want new restrictions on hydrocodone, the highly addictive ingredient found in Vicodin and other widely abused prescription painkillers.

The 's panel of specialists voted to subject hydrocodone drugs to the same restrictions as narcotics like oxycodone and morphine.

Hydrocodone is sold in combination pills like Vicodin, which mixes the drug with non-addictive painkillers like acetaminophen. Doctors prescribe the medicines to treat pain from injuries, surgery, arthritis and other ailments.

Hydrocodone consistently ranks as the first or second most-abused medicine in the U.S. each year, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency.

The DEA has asked the FDA to reclassify hydrocodone as a schedule III drug, limiting which kinds of medical professionals can write a prescription and how many times it can be refilled.

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