The Food and Drug Administration announced today that it wants the federal government to impose tough new restrictions on some of the most widely used prescription painkillers.
"Hydrocodone is very effective to relieve pain. It causes less drowsiness than the stronger narcotics so it's a more favorable drug in most cases," said William McFarland, owner and pharmacist of Loop Pharmacy in St. Albans, West Virginia.
It's also highly addictive so the FDA is tightening control on who can get the drug by reclassifying Hydrocodone from a schedule III drug to a schedule II drug.
"Schedule III drugs are brought to a pharmacy by a written prescription, sometimes they're sent over a computer line or they're called in by a physician or a physician's office," said McFarland.
Schedule II drugs, like OxyContin and Percocet, have greater restrictions on who can prescribe the medicine and how much can be prescribed.
Now, Hydrocodone prescriptions will have to be physically brought into a pharmacy rather than called in by a doctor over the phone.
Lawmakers, like US Senator Joe Manchin, have wanted this change to be made for a while due to the drug's abuse and misuse. However, some pharmacists, like McFarland, say it's unnecessary especially in West Virginia with a new drug tracking system in place.
"You're going to reduce the amount of Hydrocodone written, which will reduce the amount of people that will get that medication," said McFarland.
Health and Human Services is expected to pass the FDA's recommendation along to the Drug Enforcement Administration in the next few weeks, which will immediately begin the reclassification process.
Senator Manchin testified to the FDA's Advisory Committee nearly a year ago about the need to reclassify the highly addictive substance. He told the State Journal, "rescheduling Hydrocodone from a Schedule III to a Schedule II drug will help prevent these highly addictive drugs from getting into the wrong hands and devastating families and communities."