DEA imposes tighter restrictions on hydrocodone combination products

The Drug Enforcement Administration is reclassifying hydrocodone combination products and subjecting them to tighter restrictions.

Hydrocodone combination products, which include opioids such as Vicodin, Lorcet, Lortab and Norco, will be reclassified as Schedule II substances, effective Oct. 6.

Center for Professional SuccessThe DEA says the reclassification will protect public health and safety by reducing the potential for abuse, dependence and diversion of the highly addictive substances, while still ensuring that they’re available to patients with a legitimate medical need and who have an ongoing consultation with their health care professional.

“Almost 7 million Americans abuse controlled substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, resulting in more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than auto accidents,” DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart said in a news release. “(This) action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.”

Hydrocodone combination products are the most frequently prescribed drugs in the United States and more than 137 million prescriptions for hydrocodone combination products were written in 2013, according to the DEA.

The ADA Center for Dental Practice created a frequently asked questions on the new regulation, available here. The FAQ is only available to ADA members.

The FAQ includes:

  • What’s the difference between a Schedule II and a Schedule III classification?
  • Will I be able to phone in prescriptions to a pharmacy for a Schedule II HCP?
  • Are there other restrictions associated with writing prescriptions for Schedule II drugs?
  • How does the reclassification impact my patients?
  • Does the reclassification impact anyone besides prescribers and patients?

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