Pharmacy groups oppose reclassification of hydrocodone pain relief products

June 1, 2012
Christine Blank

Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

A number of pharmacy groups are protesting an amendment changing the classification of hydrocodone-containing pain relief products from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.

A number of pharmacy groups are protesting an amendment changing the classification of hydrocodone-containing pain relief products from Schedule III to the more restrictive Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.

The American Pharmacists Association, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, the National Community Pharmacists Association, the Food Marketing Institute, and the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists sent a letter to Congress on Thursday, opposing the amendment to the FDA Safety Innovation Act.

“We understand the concerns about diversion and abuse of these products and we share these concerns. Nevertheless, moving all of these hydrocodone products to Schedule II will result in significant barriers for patients who have a legitimate need for these products and it will result in adding to the nation’s healthcare costs, with no assurance of a reduction in diversion and abuse,” the groups stated in the letter.

Compared to Schedule III, Schedule II medications cannot be prescribed as easily by physicians and, in some states, nurse practitioners, according to the groups. Schedule II drugs are also more costly for pharmacies to obtain, stock, and dispense, because of government regulations. If hydrocodone is re-classified, prescribers could no longer phone in prescriptions for the products to pharmacies, and electronic prescribing of Schedule II medications is illegal in some states.

“Higher pharmacy dispensing costs would result from the amendment, including significantly higher administrative costs, due to recordkeeping, inventory management, and storage requirements,” the letter stated.

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