The feds are worried about Vicodin addiction, and they’re cracking down.
According to the LA Times, The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is putting tighter controls on the nation’s most widely prescribed narcotic painkiller. That’s because in recent years, the drug has led to a virtual epidemic of addiction, overdose and death.
The DEA is issuing a new rule that would place hydrocodone combinations, such as Vicodin and Norco, in the same category as other frequently abused medications like OxyContin and fentanyl.
DEA administrator Michele Leonhart says that almost 7 million Americans abuse controlled-substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers.
Once the rule takes effect in 45 days, hydrocodone products will be considered Schedule II drugs. That means they have accepted medical uses but also the highest potential for harm and abuse.
Patients will see new restrictions on prescriptions and refills, and pharmacies will have to follow stricter procedures for handling and storage of the drugs.
Hydrocodone products and other narcotic painkillers cause or contribute to more than 16,000 deaths annually, a death toll greater than for heroin and cocaine combined.
In fact, as a result of a surge in prescription overdoses, drug fatalities have now surpassed fatalities from motor vehicle crashes, which up until now has been the leading cause of accidental death in this country.
The Times reports the common perception is that products like Vicodin are less risky than other narcotic painkillers, and they are widely prescribed by family doctors and dentists.
But according to DEA administrator Leonhart, “these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”
If you or someone you love has a problem with prescription painkiller addiction, a website that offers help is “recovery.org.”
I’m Bill Maier for Shine.FM.
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