Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 31, 2013

Schumer to FDA: Restrict painkiller

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should make hydrocodone a schedule ll drug, which would increase restrictions on the painkiller, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.

With prescription drug abuse on the rise, the time is now to increase control and restrictions on the widely-prescribed painkiller, Schumer said. According to the Upstate Poison Control Center, in 2011 there were 2,335 such cases of hyrdocodone abuse in Western New York. There was a reported 429 cases in Niagara County during that time.

Schumer wants the FDA to approve the recommendations of the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, a group of doctors and scientists who say hydrocodone should be reclassified as a schedule II controlled substance, up from its current standing as a schedule III drug.

But the new restrictions must not hamper those who actually need hydrocodone, Schumer said.

“The federal government must do everything in its power to restrict the use of hydrocodone to those patients who actually need it and I’m urging the Food and Drug Administration to support its drug safety panel’s recommendation to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug, to help end this scourge that has caused our country to see more overdose deaths from this drug than seen with heroin and cocaine combined,” Schumer said. “Stricter federal rules must be put in place regarding the regularity and quantity with which we prescribe these painkillers, so that our children, parents, spouses and friends don’t continue to fall prey to them each day.”

The stricter regulations would make it harder to access painkillers that contain hydrocodone and limit access to high-level refills of such drugs over short periods of time.

On Jan. 25, the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee issued a recommendation to increase hydrocodone’s classification by a vote of 19-10. Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

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