Increase in Painkiller-Related Deaths Force DEA to Reclassify Drugs

Salem – August 28, 2014 – After the number of deaths related to opiate overdose skyrocketed from 4,000 in 1999 to 16,500 in 2010, the Food and Drug Administration held a hearing in July of 2013 that sought to address the issue of over-prescribing narcotics. On Aug. 21, 2014, the Drug Enforcement Administration moved forward by reclassifying hydrocodone combination drugs as being a Schedule II drug. In doing so, these painkillers are now in a category that will limit the amount of time that individuals can receive refills without first obtaining a new prescription from their physicians. Now tagged with a label indicating that it is a medical substance with the highest potential for harm, this rescheduling will cut the length of time that people can take these medications in half.

The fact that these painkiller medications are prescribed by doctors lead many to believe that they are safe to use. This is simply not the case. While the purpose of the medication to treat pain is valid, the risk of tolerance and subsequent addiction is monumental. Not only does the reclassification of these dangerous drugs bring awareness to the public as a whole, but it also serves to stress the significance to the prescribing doctors as well.

When doctors prescribe these medications, they are doing so with the sole intent of helping to alleviate the pain that their patients are suffering from. The goal behind this reclassification is to advocate for the necessity of patients who do receive them to be closely monitored. Presently, the pills can be refilled up to five times and can cover a period of 180 days. When this reclassification takes effect, people will only be able to receive the drugs for 90 days and will then have to meet with their doctors again if the pain has not subsided. This ensures that patients are more closely monitored when prescribed pain medications.

“This move to make painkillers more difficult to obtain will have an enormously positive impact on the population of individuals who are currently addicted to these dangerous drugs,” said Curt Lane, CEO of Mount Regis Center. “Limited access to addictive narcotics will hopefully encourage patients to seek treatment for their addiction, drastically lowering the number of tragic overdoses that can result from the use.”