WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin said Friday the rescheduling of hydrocodone combination drugs will help shut the door on prescription drug abuse.
Manchin is hailing the decision by the federal Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to make hydrocodone painkillers, like Vicodin and Lortab, Schedule II drugs instead of Schedule III.
Sen. Manchin told reporters during a conference call Friday the change will reduce the number of prescriptions doctors can write in many cases. Currently doctors can write 6-month prescriptions for the painkillers, the change will reduce that to only a 30-day prescription or up to 90-days for those with chronic pain.
Manchin said it will force doctors to communicate more with patients.
“They’re going to have to be more involved and if a person calls back and says ‘Hey Doc, I need you to give me another 30-day prescription,’ and he says, “Wait a minute I gave you 30 days, I gave you 90 pills, that should have more than cured you or taken care of your pain. You have something else wrong, you better get back in here.’ That’s what they (doctors) should be doing. Do your job,” Manchin said.
Under Schedule III doctors have been able to write 6-month prescriptions, which could be up to 500 pills. Sen. Manchin said that invites addiction and abuse.
“You’re addicted by then if you’re using them. If not, you’re selling them or if not, the grand kids are grabbing them and experimenting with them,” Manchin said. “Something is going wrong because we’ve had an explosion that basically has to have some control to it.”
Manchin first began pushing for the rescheduling back in Jan. He said the drug lobby was strong but finally he was told of the change this week. He said the change should also help police identify the abusers, both doctors and patients.
“So we can go after some first-class prosecutions, those people who are abusing it,” he said.
Manchin said HHS is expected to pass along the recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which will immediately begin the reclassification process.