Legislators Introduce Bill to Strengthen Restrictions on Hydrocodone

A bipartisan group of legislators introduced a bill that would tighten restrictions on hydrocodone, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Safe Prescribing Act of 2013 follows recommendations made in January by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory panel.

The panel voted to strengthen restrictions on hydrocodone combination drugs, such as Vicodin. The group recommended that the FDA make the drugs more difficult to prescribe. The FDA proposal forbids refills without a new prescription, as well as faxed prescriptions and those called in by phone. Distributors of the drugs would have to store the drugs in special vaults. Nurse practitioners and physician assistants would be banned from prescribing the drugs.

Forty-one members of Congress from both parties signed onto the proposed legislation as co-sponsors, the article notes.

“Prescription drug abuse threatens families in Massachusetts and across the country with no regard for income, education, or political party. Congress needs to step up and take action to help fight the epidemic of prescription drug abuse sweeping the country,” bill co-sponsor Representative Ed Markey of Massachusetts said in a news release. He introduced the bill Wednesday, along with Representative Vern Buchanan of Florida, Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois.

“Too many of our loved ones are dying every day from prescription drug overdoses and are abusing hydrocodone painkillers for non-medical purposes,” Representative Buchanan said. “This epidemic has reached such violent proportions that drug deaths now outnumber traffic fatalities in this country.”