The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has decided to place new limits and regulations on the painkiller Vicodin. Vicodin is generically known as Hydrocodone. The new limits and regulations on the drug will come as a result of it being reclassified as a Schedule II drug. A Schedule II drug is considered to be more powerful and has a higher risk for potential drug abuse and addiction. This reclassification will limit how many Hydrocodone-based pills a doctor or medical provider can prescribe to any one patient and would require stricter storage and handling requirements.
With the reclassification, the goal is to prevent theft and abuse of these pills, which is considered to be the number one way federal regulators are trying to fight against the current painkiller abuse epidemic in the United States. The reclassification of Hydrocodone drugs would require fewer prescriptions be written at any one time and to any one patient and would prohibit patients from receiving more than a three month supply at one time.
Opioid painkillers, such as Hydrocodone, have been responsible for more deaths than cocaine and heroin combined since 2003. It is the misuse and accidental overdoses caused by the use of these drugs that are causing so many deaths in the United States. In 2007 alone, there were about 27,000 unintentional prescription drug overdose deaths reported in the U.S.. As of 2008, the CDC reported that prescription drug overdoses have accounted for more deaths than traffic accidents.
Therefore, the FDA will submit a formal recommendation package to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) by the end of December of 2013. The HHS oversees any and all FDA topics, discussions and established regulations. Once the HHS makes a decision, it will begin the process that will lead to a final decision by the DEA on the appropriate scheduling of Hydrocodone and Vicodin products.