United States to tighten controls on narcotic painkillers

narcotic painkillers
narcotic painkillers

(HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is going ahead with tough new controls on painkillers containing hydrocodone, which has been tied to a surge in dangerous addictions across the United States.

The new restrictions would cover prescription narcotic drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab, and their generic equivalents, putting them in the same regulatory class as painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet, and codeine. Patients will now only have access to a three-month supply of the drug and will have to see a doctor to get any refills.

The new rules, posted online by the DEA on Thursday, come more than 18 months after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel met to discuss the fate of painkillers containing hydrocodone. That 2013 meeting followed the DEA's request for an FDA panel review on the issue. The painkillers were previously classified as Schedule III drugs, but the DEA wanted them placed under the more restrictive Schedule II designation.

"Almost seven 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 Thursday in a news release. "Today's action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available."

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