Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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January 31, 2013

Schumer to FDA: Restrict painkiller

(Continued)

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Schedule II drugs include narcotics like oxycodone and morphine, as well as stimulants like methamphetamine and amphetamine. 

Once the FDA approves the change, the final step is approval from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Schumer said the department has already said it would back the committee’s recommendation.

At that point, greater restrictions would be implemented in how doctors can prescribe hydrocodone, the quantity that can be prescribed and the ways it can be stored in doctor’s offices. Schumer noted that while New York state considers hydrocodone a schedule II narcotic, a federal law is critical to ensure that abusers or dealers cannot easily obtain the drug from neighboring states.

”To have a real effect, there must be a law at the national level,” Schumer said.

Schedule II controlled substances require a written or electronic prescription which must be signed by the practitioner. The refilling of a prescription for a controlled substance listed in schedule II is prohibited, therefore a new prescription must be issued each time a patient needs a refill.

In a letter to the FDA, Schumer said 47 million American patients were given prescriptions for hydrocodone in 2011. According to an October 2012 study using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, the rate of prescription painkiller abuse among American youth is 40 percent higher than in previous generations. The study also found a more than 500 percent increase in the number of people seeking treatment for addiction to prescription opioids between 1997 and 2007.

According to Center for Disease Control, for example, prescription drugs were involved in 14,800 overdose deaths in 2008, more than cocaine and heroin combined. 

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