The Norman Transcript

Opinion

October 29, 2013

Drug reclassification could lessen abuse

NORMAN — In 2011, U.S. doctors wrote more than 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone. That makes it the most prescribed drug in the country.

It is used for treating everything from toothaches to chronic back pain. It also consistently ranks as the first or second most abused medicine in the U.S.

Food and Drug Administrators are recommending new restrictions on medications containing hydrocodone, used in drugs like Vicodin. The new rules, if approved, would classify drugs with hydrocodone as Schedule II drugs, limiting which kinds of medical professionals can prescribe and limiting refills, according to The Associated Press.

Law enforcement authorities have sought such a classification change for years, arguing that the pills are too easily available. Patients could get as many as five refills before having to see a physician again.

Oklahoma law enforcement agencies say limiting refills and the state’s prescription registry will cut down on pill resales. Forty-four persons were arrested in 2009 in Norman as part of a pill resale ring that catered to drugs like hydrocodone and oxycodone.

The FDA’s decision, if it is reclassified in early December, will be welcome relief for states like Oklahoma that have been plagued by prescription drug abuse.

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