CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A move by the federal government will restrict the prescription of painkiller hydrocodone drugs, like Vicodin and Lortab, the number one prescribed controlled substance in West Virginia.

The federal Drug Enforcement Administration will make the announcement Friday that it’s moving hydrocodone from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II.

West Virginia Board of Pharmacy Executive Director and General Counsel David Potters said the new classification will impact how the drugs are stored, stocked, transported, prescribed and dispensed.

“The whole idea to is cut down on the amount of supply available in the medicine cabinets at any one time,” he said.

Hydrocodone is at the top of the list of prescribed drugs in West Virginia. Potters said it also is the most diverted and abused.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin applauded the reclassification.

“Today was a tremendous step forward in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic that is rampant across West Virginia and our country,” Manchin said in a news release. “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.”

Schedule II drugs are not allowed to be refilled, a prescription is required each time. Also, in many cases, only doctors can prescribe them.

“It is removing it from the prescriptive authority from many of the mid-level practitioners if not all of them,” Potters said.

Under Schedule II the written prescription expires in 90 days and at pharmacies many of them are kept in locked safes or cages. Potters added making a drug a Schedule II also gives physicians a cause to pause and consider prescribing it.

“It tends to push them to think, ‘Do I really want to prescribe this? Or do I want to prescribe something that has been found by the DEA to be less addictive and less subject to abuse?”

The new rule is expected to be announced Friday and take effect in 45 days.

Potters said West Virginia’s hydrocodone problems come from the excess that’s found in homes across the state.

“More than 70 percent of all of the controlled substances that are diverted are taken from, given away from or sold from our families’ medicine cabinets,” he said. “They’re not stolen from pharmacies or stolen from warehouses.”

Sen. Manchin said he has seen the pain the abuse of hydrocodone-combination drugs can cause in West Virginia communities. He said the finalization of the rescheduling is a major step in the right direction.

“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 said.

The West Virginia Legislature passed a bill earlier this year that limits hydrocodone drugs to no more than a 30-day supply and no more than two refills. Potters said that law would stay into effect along with the new classification.

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Comments

  • FIREGOAT

    That’s great!
    Make it harder on the patient, as if Comp doesn't make it hard enough.
    Sounds like the only people that will be on hydrocodone, will be the drug addicts on the street.
    Now they will push something that has a booklet of safety hazards and side-effects like lower immune system, major skin break-outs or death.
    If this state had a little more prosperity, the drug problem wouldn't be so bad.

    • DebT

      Yeah, don't you wonder why Tylenol is still on the market? You can walk right in and buy that and that's the sh*t that kills you in Vicodins.

    • ViennaGuy

      - If this state had a little more prosperity, the drug problem wouldn't be so bad. -

      That's a good point - but the converse could also be true:

      "If people in this state didn't waste their money on drugs, there would be more prosperity."

  • Craig from Mink Shoals

    I would concentrate on the herion problem!

  • Bob

    Watch who you vote for

  • Sharon Esquivel

    I have cancer and degenerative arthritis. Yes I take Vicodin. This is another case when government is punishing us instead of putting more drug dealers away.

    • DebT

      Same here! I have the same problem. It was BAD enough that they got rid of Vic's generic and put everyone on Norco (this was a win win for Big Pharma because now Vics are no longer generic), and Norco is crap (even though they swear on the Bible it's the same--not). But this is a big INVASIVE joke. I'm so pissed. Why do WE, the PEOPLE sit around and allow this. I didn't even see this coming! I was blind sided!

  • annebeth66

    Once again law abiding people who are not drug addicts but need this medication on a regular basis, will be the ones inconvenienced. I am sick & tired of having my life impacted by the choices other people make, that cost me time & money. Anyway all the junkies have switched to heroin because it is cheaper than pills, so really this change is about hoop jumping for people who have chronic pain.

  • ashley

    You could make everyone who gets a prescription have to refill every week they should only be a loud a certain amount during the week.

    • bill

      Ashley. I hope the day doesn't come when you or a member of your family needs pain medication, also this is about our constitutional rights, which we are losing a little at a time.

      • ashley

        Actually I do have family members who do get pain meds and they need it. I have lost friends to prescription drugs and other drugs. It would also keep people from stealing them. Its sad when you know someone who is an adict and steals their parents pills.

        • Bill

          It is sad, but these people are going to get their fix anyway they can, take away cold and pain medications and they will go to herion, coke, or the new drug of choice ICE, which cost way less and is more addictive.

          • DebT

            FIX? OMG, may cancer never strike you, dude.

      • Aaron

        How are addictive prescription pills constitutionally protected?

  • David

    Earl Ray 's brother is grandfathered in I'm sure.
    Keep pain medication from people who need and don't abuse it but the drug heads will still get it.

    I'm a freaking tired of losing my constitutional rights to criminals because lame assed liberals like Manchin don't want to punish the criminals for their actions.

    Manchin has got to go, sooner the better.

    Go back to the 5 star health club and stay there.

  • Billy

    I wish someone would do something about the pain clinic in charleston I think it's called the hope clinic. It's nothing but a pill mill visited frequently by some addicts in our community of kiahsville. I hear all you need is an MRI and you come out with a prescription of roxicontin 30's. I called the drug task force in Wayne county and they never called me back.

    • DebT

      I will admit to one thing. There are pain management clinics that have been under investigation, but they can't be logged into the regular MD who's just trying to keep his patients active. Those are two different issues. Two different things entirely. If those clinics are the problem then the Feds can go bother them, not normal people with normal issues. Damn I need to stop commenting. I'm really annoyed with this new law, and these things never make the news until there're passed!!

    • Concerned

      Hope clinic offers $500 for information about any patient abusing or selling drugs they prescribe

    • Laurie

      Wow, are you really that bored in life that you have to tattle to the police over a PAIN CLINIC? GROW UP.

  • Robert

    Manchin is ridiculous. My friend works at a practice that does not prescribe narcotics; when that physician declined to prescribe a patient Lortab for chronic pain control, the patient wrote a complaint letter to the senator's office as she had recently moved from out of state and had easy access to narcotic prescriptions where she was from. In turn, the senator's office wrote a letter to the physician REQUESTING that the physician please write this patient narcotics.

    Which side of the fence are you actually on Senator?

  • TB

    Again, Manchin taking credit but not offering specifics. Talking endlessly about an issue isn't managing or fixing the issue.

  • Leroy

    Pain is the fifth vital sign.You have to treat it.unfortunately there are no safe or effective alternatives out there so a lot of times narcotics is the only choice. I guess you can let everyone suffer

  • whatamoroon

    Most of you are idiots. Right before your very eyes we are watching this country evolve from one where even the poorest people can become wealthy through hard work to one where the government has all the money and control. It's all because all of you want the government to intervene in every aspect of your life to set rules for everyone except those politically connected. Your grandchildren are going to hate you for not protecting your freedoms for them.

    • wow

      very true.

  • Jason

    This is not completely on the doctors. There are seekers who come to EDs and clinics feigning an illness or injury just to obtain narcotics. Nobody is pushing pills onto patients but the other way around. There needs to be a national board of pharmacy website to monitor these patients more closely. Patient can cross the state line and fill a narcotic script in PA or MD and no way to track it. This is an epidemic problem across the country. I see it on a daily basis in a small community ER. Not an easy task to fix especially when government states we should not ignore patients' pain and pushing patient satisfaction as a main priority for reimbursement.

    • Aaron

      Part of the Affordable Care Act called for this kind of tracking and those opposed to the bill went nuts.

      This from a site called the Conservative Crusader...

      "While the Old Media has been ecstatic over recent job numbers, claiming that some 200,000 jobs have been added to the economy, we should note that while Obama giveth Obama also taketh away. The media may be trying to claim the President has "created or saved" jobs (the latest weasel word is he's created job opportunity) but his policies have also cost jobs. In particular his policies are costing jobs in the medical field.

      Last week, layoffs were announced in Mississippi at the University of Mississippi Medical Center due in part to the 80 million dollars that it will cost to implement a new computer system named EPIC Systems, Obama's newly mandated electronic medical records system."

      • Hop'sHip

        Hmmm. So that is how right wingers are spinning it? When I looked for a nonpartisan article about the layoffs. It seems that hospital administration cited an increase in uninsured patients. Do you think this may have something to do with the states's decision to reject Medicaid expansion under ACA? But I am interested in the conservative solution to reigning in healthcare costs. Apparently this would involve no job loss in the industry. Just go back to an antiquated written medical record system and everything will be peachy. Is that what you are peddling?

        • Aaron

          Contrary to your preconceived agenda regarding me Mr. Hip, I am not peddling anything. I merely pointed out one of the positive aspects of the Affordable Care Act and the response of the true right wingers.

          Personally, I favor universal health care as I believe it is justified under the Constitution. I just happen to know that this version, affectionately known as Obamacare is not a good bill. But then it wasn't a good bill when Bob Dole proposed it as an alternative to Hillarycare and liberals shot it down, nor was it a good bill when it was originally proposed by Richard Nixon and Ted Kennedy shot it down.

          In your desire to vilify me because I have corrected you so many times, you miss the opportunity to acknowledge my comments when we do agree. That's your loss sir, not mine.

        • Hop'sHip

          Word crime citation: reigning in should read reining in. When it reins, it poors.

      • Aaron

        Here's the link to the story.


        http://www.conservativecrusader.com/articles/obama-s-electronic-medical-records-requirements-already-causing-job-loss

    • GregG

      Sorry Jason, but your incorrect in your assumption that there are NO doctors pushing pills. Not only are they pushing pills, they are recruiting patients so that they can prescribe more. But I do agree with you that its not an easy problem to fix. Big Pharma and the rich doctors (along with all other elites and big business) have control over our government, so of course your comment.... "government states we should not ignore patients" pain is accurate. Of course that is only up to the point of growing a plant in ones back yard. Then suddenly the "government" isn't so concerned about patients pain relief.....hell they want to arrest your then. Why? Because that plant in the back yard doesn't put trillions of dollars into the pockets of the elite few and Big Pharma.

      • mamasita

        Sorry Greg. I'd bet the farm that the vast majority of these Rxs are generic . Better find a new scapegoat.

      • The bookman

        Greg? Really? The problem lies with the users, not the Docs. Yes there are Docs who are making loads of cash on the side writing scrips for users, or for people selling to users. But most Docs want no part of it. I have no problem making the drug more limited in supply through reclassification, and I would have no problem tracking the number of scrips individual Docs write for hydroC to establish abnormalities in trends. But creating some conspiracy about Docs and Big Pharma in what amounts to pain pill drug abuse?

        Call a spade a spade. Wherever there is a demand, supply will respond. Abusers will always find their drug. The problem is the desire for the drug, not that the Docs hand it out.

        • GregG

          That is your opinion, but I have to disagree. Big Pharma manufactures it and the doctors have control over it with a pen and Rx pad. So short of a person breaking into a drug store or stealing a Rx pad, how did this rampant Rx drug abuse get started? I'm pretty sure that the "old hippy" down the road isn't making the $ that Johnson & Johnson is making. And that bookman is a spade.

          • The bookman

            Oh, so independent drug companies develop medications that carry certain side effects, like risk of addiction, and then proceed to market their product to Docs, and ultimately to unsuspecting patients.

            What role does the FDA play in the introduction of the drug into the market, and the classification that it receives?

            Obviously, Pharma is heavily regulated, and I don't claim they always consider the negative effects of their drugs that they develop, but you can't argue the benefits of Pharmaceuticals and how they have improved the quality of life in the world.

            Nothing is perfect, but as you stated, most of the abusers would just be abusing something else. How do we restrain the abuser? I have no idea.

          • Jason412

            Bookman,

            When Oxycontin was released in the mid 90's it was advertised for several years, until the mid-2000's, as having "little chance of addiction or abuse". Purdue Pharma, the sole manufacturer of the drug, absolutely knew it was highly addictive and easily abused, but apparently didn't care. This information later came out in trial when they were fined over half a billion dollars.

            Thanks to their false advertising doctors prescribed it with little to no worries of abuse which led to excessive amounts prescribed and excessive amounts left in houses, and thanks to that we now have an entire generation of heroin addicts.

            Would the majority of these people be using some other drug if not for that? Most likely. But there's also thousands of people who never used street drugs, received prescriptions from a doctor, and ended up lifetime junkies. There's a reason heroin was pretty much "dead" until the surge of opiod prescriptions, and now we have more heroin users than in the history of the US.

            Are companies like Purdue entirely to blame? No, obviously not. But they absolutely carried out a "conspiracy", by training their sales reps to lie to doctors, that led to oxycontin being prescribed in epidemic proportions.

          • The bookman

            So if the government banned such substances, and required Big Pharma to cease manufacturing it, ridding it from medicine cabinets, what would the addict do?

            Removing the supply by any means necessary still leaves an addict in want of what soothes the savage beast. When they find that next drug, or plant, or household product, what then? Ban that too?

            I don't deny some Docs take full advantage of the abuse, and go to great lengths to have the word spread that they are the candyman, but I don't think it is quite the conspiracy as you have described. There are ways to root out the bad docs, but the solution lies on the other end of the transaction in my view.

  • Dumb Liberals

    The drug dealing trash win yet again. The law abiding public in general pay the price for the scums' abuse. Instead of the good people paying the price, why are we not locking these addicts and street dealers away for life - no exception?

    • Dumb Liberals

      I have no problem executing a doctor or incarcerating them for life. You make the punishment life or death and I guarantee they will only do it one time. This slap on the wrist mentality is what has gotten it to this point.

      • Hop'sHip

        Dumb: ISIS is looking for volunteers. They seem to be your kind of "people."

      • Aaron

        I agree. Rush Limbaugh should have been beheaded.

      • Amazed

        Your go-to solution seems to be always involve some kind of execution. Why?

        • Laurie

          You and crybaby tattletale to the cops who actually prosecute real drug dealing should get together. Maybe you'd snuff each other out.

        • Dumb Liberals

          You only have them as an issue ONCE.

    • GregG

      Dumb Liberals? Really? Well genius its the DOCTORS that are pushing these drugs and making millions of $$ in profit from it. Now I'm all for locking up these addicts and dealers which includes your bible clutching, holier-than-thou republicans. Are you?

      • Now!

        Really Greg? Republicans don't use drugs! Only liberals do, that's why their way of thinking is so "far out man"!

      • Robert

        Doctors making millions of $$ off of prescriptions. LMAO. Maybe the pharmaceutical companies.

        • Jason412

          Robert,

          Maybe it doesn't happen to the doctors you know, but it absolutely happens and has been for several years.

          "Agents said clinic leaders structured their bank deposits so they could hide where the money came from and avoid anti-money-laundering-reporting requirements.

          During the period analyzed, more than $5.5 million was deposited, all in cash."

          There are literally thousands of similar examples.

    • tunnel vision

      That's the problem you republicans think just because a guy women person holds the title of doctor they are good that's why it can't be stop you looking at the dealers you should be looking at the doctors cut it off at the head will die.

      • Dumb Liberals

        Brown eye tunnel vision, pull your head out and you might see things much clearer.

  • the DR is for DRug pusher

    Hopefully this will slowdown the pushers, umm I mean the doctors.

    • DebT

      It's funny, but working for doctors for 30 years I never MET a doctor who PUSHED narcos. But you seem to be an expert!

    • Robert

      I disagree and resent that statement. The problem is not the "pill pushers". It has come down to federal regulation of healthcare and lawyers that will sue for patients for practically anything. Most of the drug seekers out there know to say buzz words that will ensure them a narcotic script; whether from presentation to the E.R., discharge from the hospital, or clinic visit. Sometimes it comes down to getting a patient discharged by writing a script for them, rather than spending +$1000 on an uninsured patient staying in the hospital (on our dime!). These "pill-pushers" are getting backed into a corner with no way out, and it's insulting to have the finger pointing in this direction.

      • GregG

        Getting backed into a corner...............yea that's right. And a VERY profitable corner it is.

        • Robert

          Yes, "very profitable". The cost of becoming a physician has soared. On average a new physician has over $165,000 in medical school debt after 11-14 years of school, while the average salary continues to decline. The physicians who are dealing with drug addicts are likely to be family practitioners/general practitioners and will likely make less per year than their accumulated debt, while working 60+ hour weeks and having to deal with administrative tasks rather than actually practicing medicine. A not so nice pay-off for all the dedication. So nice try GregG, but go preach this to the over-payed athletes instead.

          • Aaron

            What percentage of doctors are the kind you reference below Jason412?

          • Jason412

            "The physicians who are dealing with drug addicts are likely to be family practitioners/general practitioners and will likely make less per year than their accumulated debt,"

            You forgot to mention most doctor's running pain clinic's accept only cash, with visits costing in the hundreds of dollars.

            If they're charging $200 a visit and see 20 patients a day that's $4000 a day, or over a million dollars a year. From what I know, those are conservative estimates in both the cost of the visit, and number of patients seen daily.

            I'm sure they don't make more than their accumulated debt.

    • rose

      No kidding........who writes these prescriptions in the first place !

      I wonder why the legislature doesn't regulate how many scripts the docs can write...or otherwise involve themselves in the doctor's business. They try to control everything else's business....why not the doctor's.