The Impact of Rescheduling Hydrocodone from a Class III to a Class II Narcotic

The DEA’s stated purpose of the change is to minimize the misuse of the drugs for recreational purposes while still ensuring that patients with severe pain have reasonable access to the amount of drug needed to control their pain and suffering. The rational behind this is and I quote from DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart ” Almost seven million Americans abuse controlled substance prescription medications, including opioid painkillers, resulting in more deaths from prescription drug overdoses than automobile accidents” Using statistics from the Centers for Disease (CDC) in 2015 there were 130,557 deaths from automobile accidents while there was 27,000 deaths from overdoses, 14,000 which were opioid related and 13,000 from combination prescription abuse. If we take into account that the needed testing to determine whether the opioid in question was actually from prescription narcotics or heroin is seldom done due to the time and expense of the procedures the 14,000 attributed to prescription opioids is questionable which leaves us with the 13,000 deaths from unknown prescription combinations. Even if we accept the statistics as recorded that means there is still 103,557 more deaths from automobile accident rendering their rational woefully lacking statistically. The change in schedule of the drug will mean medical practitioners can no longer write prescriptions with refills meaning the poor and disabled will have to go more often and pay more which will place the financial responsibility on them. The one’s who can afford it the least. This is directly from their statutes United States. 21 U.S.C. 812 (b) : The DEA may not reschedule, or refuse to reschedule, a drug or other substance based on economic impacts. This again states the economics of the change will lie with the person requiring the medication. The procedure for procuring the medication also will be more difficult for wholesalers and retailers meaning shortages due to more extensive documentation and extensive record keeping. My experience says that this drug (Hydrocodone, Vicodin, Lortab, etc. is the least addictive moderate painkiller available and due to non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) and Acetaminophen have been proven to damage the liver, kidneys, etc. Hydrocodone is the lowest strength and least addictive narcotic available. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that as many as 100 million Americans suffer from some form of short tem and long term chronic pain. 91% of people taking hydrocodone by legal prescription questioned said the physical and financial burden would be to great and they would have to go back to using excessive amounts of acetaminophen which is the cause of 25,000 ER visits yearly. This rescheduling is going to cause unnecessary suffering to the people that can afford it the least. I by no means accept or promote addiction but I also do not accept people being in severe pain due to the DEA’s questionable tactics on “The War on Drugs” when the reality is hydrocodone is the least of the addiction problems sweeping America. This heavy handed oversight occurred in the 90’s and had doctors so afraid to prescribe narcotics people were in agony and could get no relief. I thought we had learned from then but I suppose that the fear of addiction is more important than the suffering of our people. CMB

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