What it May Mean for Your Internal Medicine Treatment
The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently reclassified the painkiller hydrocodone (Norco) from a Schedule III medication to a Schedule II medication, making it a bit more difficult for patients to obtain a prescription. But what does this actually mean for you as an Internal Medicine patient?
What is Schedule II, Anyway?
Let’s first go into a little bit about how drug scheduling works in the first place. In 1971, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act, which established a classification system designed to govern how prescription drugs are distributed. There are five schedules – I through V. Each schedule or category is based upon the addictive nature and abuse potential of the medication. Schedule I drugs are much more likely to be abused, for instance, than those in the Schedule V category.
Hydrocodone is in the opioid family of drugs. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, there were more than 41,000 drug overdose deaths among people aged 25-64 in the U.S. in 2011. It was the number one cause of death among people in this age group – a higher total than the number of motor vehicle accident fatalities. Of those deaths, 22,810 were attributed to pharmaceuticals. An amazing 75 percent of pharmaceutical-related overdoses (16,917) were due to opioids.
Most medications aren’t assigned a schedule because they don’t pose a risk for abuse, such as drugs for high cholesterol and high blood pressure. However, hydrocodone made the list because it has a substantial potential for misuse.
What Does it Mean for Me?
If you are currently being treated with hydrocodone you will need to physically pick up a prescription written on a special prescription pad from the doctor’s office. You will then need to take that prescription to your pharmacy. Prescriptions for hydrocodone will only be given for a 30-day supply with no refills. Hydrocodone prescriptions will not be mailed to your home and they cannot be called in or faxed to your pharmacy. It is important to give your doctor’s office several business days’ notice so that you do not run out of your medication.
If you have any questions regarding the re-categorization of hydrocodone, call your doctor with Addison Internal Medicine at 972-301-7060 or contact the office online and a representative will call you back.