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DEA Official: Doctors Not Taking Abuse of Hydrocodone Combination Pills Seriously


A top Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) official said this week the high rates of abuse of hydrocodone combination pills demonstrate physicians aren’t taking the risks of these medications seriously.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is holding an advisory meeting this week to consider a proposal by the DEA to more tightly control prescriptions of drugs containing hydrocodone, such as Vicodin.

“This drug has got a hold of this society and it’s killing us,” Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator in the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control, said Thursday at the FDA meeting. “There’s so many prescriptions out there and I’ll tell you why. The medical community, in my humble opinion, is not taking this drug seriously.”

The DEA has asked the FDA to limit prescriptions of hydrocodone combination pills and cough suppressants to a 90-day supply, Bloomberg reports. Currently, doctors can write prescriptions with five refills within six months. The DEA proposal would also prevent physician assistants and nurse practitioners from prescribing the drugs.

Hydrocodone combination products include less potent painkillers, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. They are currently considered Schedule III controlled substances. Pure hydrocodone is a Schedule II drug, which is more tightly controlled. The DEA is asking the FDA to reclassify hydrocodone combination products as Schedule II drugs. The FDA advisory panel is scheduled to vote today on a recommendation about hydrocodone combination drugs.

4 Responses to this article

  1. Avatar of Erica Gerhart
    Erica Gerhart / September 12, 2013 at 11:26 am

    So what are you supposed to do when the doctor won’t see you because you are on this medication? We can’t even get into an MD because my father is on this medication for chronic pain from Rheumatoid Arthritis. It’s like the patient is to blame for the prescription.

  2. Avatar of Diane
    Diane / January 30, 2013 at 7:43 am

    The issue is not addressed toward those patients truly in need. Your doctor can still prescribe and those in need will still obtain the med. Doctors need to be accountable for the prescribing they do and not continue to keep so many people on drugs for 30-40 or more years. Generally speaking, I say the restrictions should be even stronger. So many drugs are given to people for many many years with no interventions to wean them off or try alternate methods to reduce the pain. Many many doctors write these type of prescriptions for years and years and never do anything to help resolve the underlying issues and yes often it is the patient who refuses to even try. It is the nature of the beast, people go into the office and want a prescription rather than try alternative drug free methods to resolve the issue first. It is my opinion all the states should have tougher regulation on prescribing of all drugs. In some states doctors can just keep reordering vicodin, percocet, valium, etc. and never have to show evidence of making attempts to resolve the patients problem. I have been a RN for many year, have seen patients on some of these drugs for up to 30-40 years. In the ER a day did not pass that we did not have a few of the same patients nearly on a daily basis make attempt to obtain prescriptions so they could sell the drugs. There’s a lot of factors involved and I applaud the DEA and FDA and only wish the restrictions were tougher.

  3. Avatar of BillyH
    BillyH / January 25, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    It is sad when such a powerful agency like the DEA uses poor judgement and bias to encourage bad choices by others. If folks would bother to read the CDC death reports and the caveats that follow, it would be clear that the 15,000 “Opioid” deaths end up being ~2-3000 if you count the death as being caused by only one drug. The most likely cause of these deaths are from a combination of several drugs, one of which was an opioid. Singling out just one drug class shows a lack of understanding of the situation or a clear attempt to decieve. The biggest problem with the DEA “cure” is the increased suffering of the people who actually need the drugs for their chronic pain conditions. Making it more difficult for them to get the medicine they need is no way to try to deal with a drug abuse problem. I would also refer them to how well they have done dealing with C-II drugs like oxycodone, morphine and methadone (methadone is associated with more than 30% of all “opioid deaths”). I guess it is easier to bully doctors, pharmacists and sick people than to deal with drug cartels.

  4. Jack / January 25, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    the DEA are trying to place themselves as medical doctors. They do not see the ones who need the drugs. They are just making it harder for those in true need.

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