Bill to limit hydrocodone access wins broad Congressional support

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Bipartisan bills introduced Wednesday in both houses of Congress propose tightening access to hydrocodone painkillers such as Vicodin.

Within a day, 42 cosponsors from both parties had stepped forward to support the legislation, according to The Hill. These lawmakers believe that changing hydrocodone from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug will combat the growing problem of prescription drug addiction and abuse. Opponents of the measure, including some workers in nursing homes and other healthcare providers, say the reclassification will just make it harder to care for people in pain.

Earlier this month, legislators received a letter from the Food and Drug Administration saying that the standard reclassification process would be lengthy, and making the change through legislation would be faster. An FDA panel had previously recommended the change to Schedule II, and lawmakers had pressed the agency to act on that quickly.

If the bill passes, people will no longer be able to refill hydrocodone prescriptions by fax or phone, and long-term care operators might have to store the medication differently.

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