Drug agency officially proposes to restrict access to hydrocodone medications

Share this article:

The federal government is on the verge of tightening access to Vicodin and similar types of painkillers by moving the drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II classification. Long-term care providers have protested this change, saying it will make it more difficult to manage residents' pain.

Vicodin is known as a hydrocodone combination product (HCP), because it contains the opioid hydrocodone as well as other substances. While hydrocodone itself has been classified as a Schedule II drug for decades, HCPs have been considered less dangerous.

However, a 2012 law called for reevaluating how HCPs are classified. An advisory committee of the Food and Drug Administration voted to change the classification in December. A Drug Enforcement Administration evaluation supported that decision, and the agency published its official proposal in the Feb. 27 Federal Register.

Too much of the medication is being diverted from patients, and many people are endangering themselves by taking the drugs “on their own initiative” rather than according to the “medical advice from a practitioner,” according to the entry in the Federal Register.

Switching these drugs to Schedule II would limit who can prescribe them and tighten controls around prescription refills, so long-term care providers and allied groups have spoken out against reclassification. Those experiencing chronic pain, “especially those in nursing home and long-term care,” stand to be harmed, said National Community Pharmacists Association spokesman Kevin Schweers in November.

Click here to access the complete proposed rule. Comments are being accepted through April 27.

Share this article:

More in News

CMS expands therapy payment research

The government is expanding its research into alternative therapy payments, to consider more holistic changes to the way Medicare reimburses skilled nursing facilities, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Tuesday.

CDC tightens Ebola guidelines for healthcare workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued more stringent guidelines for how healthcare workers should interact with Ebola patients, following an outcry from nurses and other professionals.

Nonprofit providers face alarming market forces, must rally, LeadingAge chairman says

Nonprofit providers face alarming market forces, must rally, ...

Nonprofit long-term care providers must work together to address alarming trends, or their market share could plummet and the sector as a whole could falter, LeadingAge Chairman David Gehm told ...