The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is proposing to remove the opiate-based medication naloxegol from the federal drug schedule, according to The Hill. The drug is currently considered a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it can be derived from opium alkaloids.
Other Schedule II drugs include heroin, methamphetamine, Adderall and Ritalin.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved naloxegol (Movantik) this fall for treatment of opioid-induced constipation in adults with chronic non-cancer pain. AstraZeneca, which makes naloxegol, submitted a petition seeking the drug’s removal from the drug schedule. The company stated the drug is not prone to abuse. In its proposal, the DEA agreed.
Anyone caught illegally dealing or possessing drugs on the drug schedule faces criminal penalties. Doctors are restricted in the way they can administer the drugs.
Earlier this year, the DEA announced it will reclassify hydrocodone combination products such as Vicodin, in an effort to reduce prescription drug abuse. Under the new rules, patients will be able to receive the drugs for only up to 90 days without receiving a new prescription. In October 2013, the FDA recommended tighter restrictions for hydrocodone combination products.
Under the new rule, hydrocodone combination products will be classified as Schedule II drugs. Currently these products are Schedule III drugs, meaning they can be refilled up to five times, and prescriptions can cover a 180-day period. In most cases, patients who wish to refill their hydrocodone combination prescription will now have to give their pharmacy a prescription from a healthcare provider, instead of having it phoned or faxed in.