Tighter Regulations Coming On Certain Painkillers

The Wall Street Journal reports today that access to the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the U.S. will soon be more tightly regulated. Hydrocodone combination drugs such as Vicodin will be reclassified into the category of medical substances that are most likely to cause harm. This means that patients will be required to obtain a new prescription for these types of painkillers every 90 days, and that in most cases patients must provide their pharmacy with a prescription in-person rather than having it called or faxed in. The Drug Enforcement Administration indicates that the new regulations will take effect in 45 days.

The decision is meant to reduce opioid abuse that is rampant across the United States. According to the report, in 2010, more than 16,500 people died from opioid-based painkiller overdose, more than all other classes of drugs combined. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart explained to the Journal, “Today’s action recognizes that these products are some of the most addictive and potentially dangerous prescription medications available.” According to the Journal, Phoenix House, an addiction treatment organization, campaigned for and supports the new regulations. “If you’re treating someone with a condition so painful they require treatment with a highly addictive drug, that’s someone who should be monitored closely,” said the organization’s chief medical officer Andrew Kolodny.

However, patients with legitimate need for pain medication may be negatively affected. The Journal reports that a policy analyst for the American Cancer Society, Mark Fleury said, “Seriously ill patients will now have to visit their doctors more often than necessary to receive the drugs.”

The physicians at Louisiana Pain Specialists recognize the risks as well as the need for some patients to use opioid-based medications, and it is very important to them that the patients to whom they prescribe opioid medications for pain are using them safely and correctly. To ensure the safe use of opioid medications, every patient who is prescribed these medications signs a contract in which they agree to use the medications as prescribed, and to avoid filling opioid medication prescriptions from other providers. They also employ the help of Dr. Mark Skellie, Psy.D., a Psychologist specializing in Clinical and Health Psychology, to help ensure the safety of their patients prescribed opioids.

If you are suffering from chronic pain but worried about the addiction potential of opioid medications, one of the physicians at Louisiana Pain Specialists can help. Call us or fill out the contact form on this page.

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