Hydrocodone combination products must now be more closely monitored and more tightly secured after federal authorities reclassified the drug under a more restrictive schedule.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration shifted hydrocodone combination drugs from the more-permissive Schedule III to the more-restrictive Schedule II controlled substances category because of its high potential for abuse and diversion. The update is scheduled to take effect on Oct. 5.
According to the DEA, facilities must store Schedule II drugs in a securely locked, substantially constructed cabinet, maintain a complete and accurate record of the controlled substances on hand and the dates inventories are taken, and dispose of them through registered "reverse distributors."
"Today's action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available," says DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, who adds that nearly 7 million Americans abuse prescription medications, which results in more deaths than auto accidents.
The new restriction is expected to be inconvenient for patients, who'll now have to bring a physical prescription to the pharmacy and schedule a doctor visit for more than a 90-day supply.