Last updated: August 26. 2014 3:18PM - 942 Views

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A major change has been made by the federal government when it comes to prescription pain medications.


The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) officially announced the final rule to reschedule hydrocodone-combination drugs, which are found in highly addictive painkillers like Vicodin and Lortab, from a Schedule III to a Schedule II controlled substance.


Rescheduling these drugs will ensure proper limits for prescription refills, tighter controls at pharmacies and more visits to a doctor before receiving these dangerous drugs, according to U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The DEA is the lead federal agency in enforcing narcotics and controlled substances laws and regulations.


“Today was a tremendous step forward in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is rampant across West Virginia and our country,” Manchin said. “As Governor and now as U.S. Senator, I have diligently fought to stem the tide on the prescription drug abuse, and rescheduling these highly addictive drugs will help prevent them from getting into the wrong hands and devastating families and communities.


“For far too long, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects that these drugs have had on our communities. Job vacancies cannot be filled because of failed drug tests. Family lives are ripped apart because of addiction and overdose deaths. Grandparents, great grandparents and neighbors are raising kids whose parents suffer from addiction. Students are unable to play outside because too many needles blanket their playgrounds. These circumstances are too common and simply unacceptable, which is why I am so grateful that the DEA has finalized the rescheduling process of hydrocodone. Although there is much more that must be done to curb prescription drug abuse, I am confident that rescheduling hydrocodone will undoubtedly begin saving hundreds of thousands of lives immediately,” Manchin went on to say.


The new rules mean that drugs like Vocodin, Lortab and their generic equivalents will be subject to the same prescribing rules as painkillers like codenie and oxycodone. Patients will be limited to 90-day supply of medication and will have to see a health care professional to get a refill.


(Fred Pace is the Editor for the Coal Valley News. He can be contacted at fpace@civitasmedia.com or at 304-369-1165, or on Twitter @fcpace62)


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