|English: The seal of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
"Although there is much more that must be done to curb prescription drug abuse, I am confident that rescheduling hydrocodone will undoubtedly begin saving hundreds of thousands of lives immediately." Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia
Hydrocodone combination products will become Schedule II class drugs
Last Friday August 22, 2014, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) made public its final ruling regarding the reclassification of hydrocodone. Here is the summary:
With the issuance of this final rule, the Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration reschedules hydrocodone combination products from schedule III to schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. This scheduling action is pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act which requires that such actions be made on the record after opportunity for a hearing through formal rulemaking. This action imposes the regulatory controls and administrative, civil, and criminal sanctions applicable to schedule II controlled substances on persons who handle (manufacture, distribute, dispense, import, export, engage in research, conduct instructional activities with, conduct chemical analysis with, or possess) or propose to handle hydrocodone combination products.
A ruling 10 years in the making...
If you subscribe to our blog, then you probably remember we published a post about this proposed reclassification of hydrocodone combination products on October 13, 2013. This process has taken 10 years of formal debate, after it was first suggested 15 years ago to reclassify the drug. This new ruling will take place on October 6, 2014.
What changes to expect
There are a number of related articles below; however, the Wall Street Journal published a video interview featuring WSJ's Louise Radnofsky joining the News Hub. Here Radnofsky explains what patients, physicians, physician assistants, and pharmacists can expect in complying with the ruling.
If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.
Some closing thoughts...
Prescription drug abuse is a serious epidemic in the United States. The statistics are staggering. And now more than 10 years since the Drug Enforcement Administration first recommended the reclassification for hydrocodone combination products the Food and Drug Administration has changed its position recognizing the epidemic which has caused tens of thousands of overdoses and deaths. Between 1999 and 2010 deaths linked to the drugs tripled, while the sales of these drugs increased by four times.
The conversation continues...