Poisoning (including alcohol and prescription drugs) causes more deaths than car crashes in AZ. Committed folks across the state are taking action on this issue. We’re part of the Arizona Prescription Drug Misuse and Abuse Initiative, a multi-agency, multi-systemic approach to addressing the epidemic. As part of this initiative, new guidelines have been issued for prescribing controlled substances in Emergency Departments and dispensing of controlled substances by pharmacists. We are also one of four states that will be working with the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials over the next year to receive technical assistance to bolster our efforts to prevent and reduce prescription drug misuse in Arizona. Now, a new tool may be on the horizon
Last week the FDA announced that they’ll recommend to the US Department of health and Human Services that hydrocodone combination products (like Vicodin) be reclassified from “Schedule III” to a the more restrictive “Schedule II” category. The FDA will submit their formal recommendation package to HHS to reclassify hydrocodone combination products into Schedule II in December They believe the National Institute on Drug Abuse will concur with their recommendation- which would begin a process that will lead to a final decision by the DEA on the scheduling change- which would better ensure that these products are properly prescribed and appropriately used by the patients who need them most.
Hydrocodone is equipotent to morphine and is the number 1 or 2 most abused prescription drug in this country. The US has less than 5 percent of the worlds population and uses over 90 percent of the world production of hydrocodone. The arguments against rescheduling this medication all concern ease of access. This is the precise reason it should be more tightly scheduled. The scheduling is to restrict addictive, highly abused drugs. No better example can be given.