US seeks tighter controls on certain painkillers (Update)

October 24, 2013

The US Food and Drug Administration recommended tighter controls Thursday on how doctors prescribe the most commonly used narcotic painkillers, in a bid to stop abuse.

The move would allow widely abused opioid analgesic drugs containing the narcotic hydrocodone to be controlled strictly as powerful painkillers such as OxyContin.

In announcing its decision, the FDA said it had become "increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States."

Janet Woodcock, who heads the agency's center for drug evaluation and research, said the FDA plans to submit its formal recommendation by early December to reclassify painkillers containing hydrocodone as "Schedule II" medications, up from their current "Schedule III" classification.

"We are announcing the agency's intent to recommend to HHS (Health and Human Services) that hydrocodone combination products should be reclassified to a different and more restrictive schedule," she said in a statement.

"This determination comes after a thorough and careful analysis of extensive scientific literature, review of hundreds of public comments on the issue and several public meetings, during which we received input from a wide range of stakeholders, including patients, health care providers, outside experts and other government entities."

The Drug Enforcement Administration had been seeking the measure, and formally requested the change in 2009.

In 2011, doctors wrote about 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing medications for around 47 million patients, according to government figures.

Overseen by the FDA and the DEA, the scheduling system ranks drugs based on their medical use, potential for abuse and international treaties, among other criteria.

Schedule II drugs have the highest potential for abuse and addiction that can be legally prescribed.

Drugs in this category include cocaine when used as a topical anesthetic to treat cancer, morphine and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) medications Adderall and Ritalin.

The proposed change would bar patients from refilling their prescriptions without seeing a doctor.

There are a total of five different categories of controlled substances.

Explore further: FDA panel wants limits on hydrocodone painkillers

Related Stories

FDA panel wants limits on hydrocodone painkillers

January 25, 2013
Federal health advisors want new restrictions on hydrocodone, the highly addictive ingredient found in Vicodin and other widely abused prescription painkillers.

FDA panel votes for tougher restrictions on hydrocodone

January 26, 2013
(HealthDay)—A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel met Thursday and Friday to discuss the fate of certain painkillers that contain the opioid known as hydrocodone, concluding in a vote in favor of moving hydrocodone ...

US panel opposes pure hydrocodone painkiller

December 9, 2012
(AP)—U.S. government health experts overwhelmingly voted against a stronger version of hydrocodone on Friday, questioning the need for a new form of one of most widely abused prescription painkillers.

Senator warns FDA on danger of newest painkillers

January 8, 2012
Following fatal shootings in two New York pharmacy robberies, a U.S. senator is warning that a new batch of "super painkillers" now under review could force repeats of recent violent robberies that left six people dead.

FDA panel weighs tougher restrictions on some prescription painkillers

January 24, 2013
(HealthDay)—A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel will meet Thursday and Friday to discuss the fate of certain painkillers that contain an opioid known as hydrocodone.

Recommended for you

Rapid response inpatient education boosts use of needed blood-thinning drugs

November 16, 2018
A new study designed to reach hospitalized patients at risk shows that a "real-time" educational conversation, video or leaflet can lower the missed dose rates of drugs that can prevent potentially lethal blood clots in their ...

Drug overdose epidemic goes far beyond opioids, requires new policies

November 7, 2018
Most government-funded initiatives to address the overdose epidemic in the United States have targeted opioids specifically and have neglected other drugs that are increasingly implicated in overdoses, such as cocaine and ...

Zebrafish larvae help in search for appetite suppressants

November 2, 2018
Researchers at the University of Zurich and Harvard University have developed a new strategy in the search for psychoactive drugs. By analyzing the behavior of larval zebrafish, they can filter out substances with unwanted ...

FDA OKs powerful opioid pill as alternative to IV painkiller

November 2, 2018
U.S. regulators on Friday approved a fast-acting, super-potent opioid tablet as an alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals.

Amphetamine-related hospitalizations surged between 2003 and 2015

November 2, 2018
An analysis conducted by Hennepin Healthcare, University of Minnesota School of Public Health and University of Michigan researchers shows amphetamine-related hospitalizations increased more than 270 percent from 2008 to ...

Cocaine-fentanyl overdoses underscore need for more 'test strips' and rapid response

November 1, 2018
Penn Medicine emergency department physicians are calling for more readily available testing strips to identify the presence of fentanyl in patients experiencing a drug overdose, and a rapid, coordinated response among health ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Lurker2358
5 / 5 (1) Oct 24, 2013
I'm not on Hydrocodone, I'm on Neurontin.

If they had the pain I experience nearly every day, then they'd just go ahead and make almost anything that kills pain be over the counter.

I'm on 400mg 3 times per day now, and I still feel pins and needles; horribly painful jabbing, stinging pain. If someone had told me when I was 21 that I'd spend the next decade suffering like this, I wouldn't have believed them.

I don't know if I'm building up a tolerance, or if my condition is getting worse, or both, but if and when this stuff stops working, I don't know what I'm going to do, because the pain is maddening without the medicine.

I realize drugs are abused all the time, but it's too easy for some official to tell someone who is in chronic pain what they can and can't take to stop the pain.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.