Local News

Oct 29, 2013 12:12 PM by Rachel Cole - rcole@kristv.com

FDA Calling for Restrictions on Painkiller Refills

CORPUS CHRISTI - Prescription pain killers could soon be more difficult to get your hands on. This following a vote by the Food and Drug Administration to place new restrictions on medicine containing hydrocodone.

Doctor Chris Miller, Director of Pharmacy and Primary Care Services and Spohn Memorial says the potential changes could decrease abuse of the drug.

"They're recommending that it go from a class 3 to a class 2 drug," Dr. Miller said.

He says changing the drug classification will increase restrictions on medicines containing hydrocodone.

"A class 2 drug is essentially, does have more restrictions, it doesn't allow for refills, can't be called in," he added.

Dr. Miller says the potential changes stem from the recent years of abuse to prescription drugs. Now the FDA doesn't have much choice.

"It's an approach they have to take, it doesn't appear to be getting any better, utilization and trend wise," Dr. Miller said.

According to the FDA, in 2011, more than 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone were written, making it the most prescribed drug in the country and the most common cure for chronic pain.

"There has been an increase in the utilization of this drug and it does also have an abuse potential," he said.

Right now, patients can get five refills on a prescription, before they have to see a doctor again. According to officials, if the drug is reclassified patients could only receive one prescription before making an appointment.

"It is going to require more face to face contact with patients," Dr. Miller added.

He says making the drug less available is the best approach.

"If you do make it less accessible it will probably, hopefully lead to less abuse," Dr. Miller said.

The new restrictions could be put into place by the end of the year. The FDA plans to submit a formal recommendation to the Human and Health Services Department. That will begin a process that will lead to a final decision by the DEA on the appropriate classification of these drugs.

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