New rules for hydrocodone take effect soon - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New rules for hydrocodone take effect soon

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LOUISVILLE, Ky (WDRB) -- Right now, the pain killer hydrocodone is a schedule III drug, but on October 6 it will change to a more restrictive schedule II drug, because officials say it's a public safety issue.

"Very highly addictive. It's highly abused. It's one of the biggest pain medications that's abused and prescribed," said Martin Redd, Louisville District Group Supervisor with the DEA.

Pharmacist Roger Hillis told WDRB he got notice of the coming change just a few days ago and he wasn't surprised.

"It's been something that's been talked about for a long time and really, I'm surprised it hasn't happened before now," said Hillis.

Redd said the idea was first proposed 15 years ago and after consideration, the DEA published a final rule on August 22.

"It initiated with a doctor, with a physician back in 1999. Some reports were done and it's just now that DEA and HHS have finalized the surveys and reports worthy enough to make it a schedule II drug. This just doesn't happen overnight," said Redd.

The purpose of the change is to minimize the abuse of the drug for recreational purposes.

"Those who abuse the drug I think will still find a way to do that because they seem to be very clever," said Hillis.

The changes are also to make sure patients with severe pain still have reasonable access to the dosage they need.

"Those who legitimately need the medication are going to have a lot harder time getting it and will have to go back to their doctor more often," added Hillis.

Redd agrees that the change won't fix the problem but officials hope it will help minimize it.

"It won't be harder to get. But it will probably be a little more expensive on the street," said Redd.

Hillis said to wait and see what it will do to the retail cost.

"It's hard to know what the manufacturers will do. They're the ones who really control the pricing of it. I would recommend that as soon as they find out about this that they call their doctor and ask them what procedures they're gonna have to go through and how often they're gonna have to come in to see the doctor," said Hillis.

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