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Stricter Control on Painkillers Fail Due to Lobbying by Pharmacists and Drug Chains


Pharmacist groups and drug chains have successfully lobbied against stricter controls on prescription painkillers, The New York Times reports. The proposed controls would have applied to hydrocodone products.

New restrictions on the drugs were approved by the Senate in May, as part of a bill that reauthorized user fees for the Food and Drug Administration. The House version of the bill does not address the issue of controls on prescription drugs, according to the article. Negotiators for the House and Senate said Monday they had reached an agreement on the bill, and were hopeful Congress would approve it by the end of June.

The proposed controls would require patients to receive new prescriptions for refills of products that contain hydrocodone, such as Vicodin. A higher level of security for storage and transportation of these drugs would be required, and penalties for misuse of the drugs would be increased.

Senator Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, who led the fight for stricter controls, told the newspaper his proposal was successfully opposed by drugstores and pharmacists. “We don’t want to put anybody out of business,” he said. “But perhaps the chain pharmacies and druggists need to change their business model a bit. These are legal drugs needed by some people. But they can also be addictive. They are so readily accessible, so easy to obtain, that they are ravaging society and ending many young lives.”

Emergency room visits related to hydrocodone have soared since 2000. Vicodin, which also contains acetaminophen, is subject to fewer regulations than pure hydrocodone.

Drug chains and pharmacist groups objected to the proposed controls, arguing they would make it more difficult for some people suffering from pain to receive treatment. They also said the new controls would lead to costly administrative tasks for pharmacies.

5 Responses to this article

  1. Doug / July 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    We truly have the best government money can buy. Unlike Senator Manchin I want to put someone out of business if they are putting profits ahead of public health.

  2. Dr. Barry Schecter / June 20, 2012 at 10:14 am

    The insanity of making Vicodin and other drugs like that more difficult to obtain, is not going to end any problem. What will happen is that those that have to take copious amounts Hydrocodone, will eventually seek Heroin. Is that a better solution? For the Cartels and gangsters it is. Probably employ more Police and Lawyers, and C.O.’s, etc. But we never address the problem, do we? Why do people want to change the way they feel, to the extent of addiction.

  3. Avatar of lyn davis
    lyn davis / June 19, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    Now that’s my type of justice!

  4. Fr. Jack Kearney / June 19, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    As someone who works in both addiction treatment and the funeral industry I would like to thank the pharmaceutical industry for opposing this legislation and thereby giving me more work. Now if you could just get them to make Vicodin an over-the-counter drug….

  5. Doug / July 3, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    The insanity is using a few end-of-life cancer studies to justify the soaring profits of doctors, pharmacists and drug companies who are flooding our Nation with toxic “medicine.” Show me the legions who has to take copious quantities of hydrocodone. Pain management is not pain elimination, and there are few treatments more dangerous than opiates. Doctors are under intense pressure to see 40-50 patients a day, and giving patients pills to shut them up is a natural consequence of our healthcare system. I think the problem is national groupthink that all pain is bad and that we all need easy access to enough chemicals to numb us out. There is no good science supporting our country’s current infatuation with opiates, but there is plenty of lobbying money available to make sure we can all get our fixes and Big Pharma can take its place beside the oil industry, Wall Street and anyone else who makes so much money they can afford to write our Nation’s laws in their own interests.

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