The painkiller hydrocodone, the active ingredient in the drug Vicodin, should be reclassified as a schedule II narcotic to help curb the number of deaths caused by habit-forming prescription drugs, an advisory committee for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends.
The panel voted 19 to 10 to change the drug’s classification so that it would be in the same category as other widely abused drugs including opioids such as fentanyl and OxyContin. If the FDA decides to go along with the committee’s recommendation, patients prescribed Vicodin would receive fewer pills in each prescription and refills would be harder to obtain. Pharmacies would also have stricter rules to follow for storing and handling the drug. The FDA is not required to follow the recommendations of its advisory panels, but it usually does.
Schedule II drugs are the most restrictive drugs on the market. Currently, hydrocodone is a schedule III medication, meaning it is not considered as addictive as schedule II drugs. More prescriptions are written for the drug than for the leading hypertension medication and antibiotic.
Prescription painkillers are often abused or misused, and account for more deaths than cocaine and heroine combined. Prescription drug fatalities have become the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. The FDA is working to cut down on the number of deaths from prescription drugs. As part of this effort, the FDA recently urged drug companies with opioids in development to consider abuse-deterrent formulations. Opioids are classified as schedule II drugs.
Source: Health Aim