Atlanta, Ga – Medpage Today reports that an FDA (Food and Drug Administration) advisory committee has voted 19 to 10 in favor to move drugs made from hydrocodone combination from Schedule III to Schedule II category of controlled substance. Drugs such as Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco now fall in to the restrictive schedule II category of controlled substances.
Difference Between Schedule II and Schedule III Controlled Substance
The biggest difference between schedule III and schedule II is with prescriptions With scheduled III, physicians can prescribe a 6-month supply. Schedule III limits the supply to three-months. Another major change is the ability for the physician’s office to call in a prescription. Schedule II drugs require a written prescription where schedule III allows the physician’s office to call in the prescription in to the pharmacy.
Representatives from industry and advocacy organizations such as pharmacists and pain specialists, had the opportunity to express their concerns at the hearing. Most representatives agreed that moving hydrocodone combination products from schedule III to schedule II would limit treatment for patients in pain.
According to Lynne Webster, MD, a representative of AAPM. ”This is a balancing act, a trade off between access for people who derive a benefit from hydrocodone and non-medical use [abuse] that has caused a great deal of harm.”
Discussion to move hydrocodone combination from schedule III to schedule II has been ongoing since 1991 when the FDA and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) calculated the abuse ratios for 47 million people across the U.S. who were prescribed hydrocodone combinations. The calculation included factors such as the number of visits to the Dr’s office and emergency room divided by the number of hydrocodone combination tablets dispensed.
Although the calculation concluded that hydrocodone combinations are less abused then Oxycontin. Those who abuse hydrocodone combinations take 10 to 40 pills a day and there is a stead increase in crimes surrounding prescription drugs made from hydrocodone combinations.