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.

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    May 16, 2015 at 4:00 AM

    Harry J. Anslinger would be so proud of the myopic DEA, for scaring HHS and FDA into near criminalizing the use of this very effective pain medication. Those of us cancer patients with chronic pain caused by side effects of treatments and surgeries, not to mention the damage cancer has done to our organs know how to manage our medications along with our Doctors that actually have to write the scripts, and pharmacies that can see the historic usage of each patient.

    The assumptions of the number of deaths attributed to this one drug are way off the inferred number in the study that was used to BS the confused FDA into thinking reclassifying the drug would be helpful. Gee whiz!! Why can’t the ATF use the same logic to ban or restrict guns, heck, the death rate due to guns is nearly 10 times that of all the various types of opiate pain relievers combined, and perhaps 100 times that of this pain med. Will the ATF, DEA, HHS, or anyone in government restrict guns based on the safety issue? Nope, that would be too much common sense for an agency that has not put a dent in the real war on drugs in the past 50+ years. I’m generally pro-government, since they generally do most things well, but when they screw up, they screw up in a big way, in this case it’s quite detrimental to those citizens of the US who have to suffer now as a result of this senseless regulation. The FDA did right to push for the reduction of acetaminophen from 500 to 325… that was science and medicine and government working together to solve a real issue, where liver damage was a serious potential risk.

    Sorry to be sounding vindictive, but I do hope that the folks that think of these senseless regulations come down with some painful illness and experience the fear Doctors face now for “over-prescribing” an effective medication, and as a result cannot get the relief needed. With all the pharmacies inter-connected now, it’s easy to spot an abuser who might be into drug shopping, and patients that are seen to have an ever increasing need for this drug, so appropriate interventions can take place. So what’s the real point in making this the bad boy of meds? Please FDA, come to your senses, and let Doctors do their magic, and you guys do yours… find better anti-biotics, better cancer treatments, and help reduce the suffering of human-kind. We treat animals better than we treat humans in this country. Shame on the mindless FDA, for not doing sufficient research on this issue. They’ve simply come up with a solution and thought they’d found a problem to which the solution could be attached, despite problem not really existing except in their dream world… wonder what’s in the pipe they are smoking. Maybe that could be classed as level 3 or 4, and we might get a few puffs to make the pain manageable.

    I’ve called my congressman on this issue, but it seems that once you go to Schedule 2 it will take 50 to 100 years for common sense to prevail. Look at the damage misinformation was caused by the ill-informed Anslinger in the early 20th century. I wonder if the FDA has ever heard the phrase “quality of life”? I do so hope that Karma exists.

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