In a move designed to combat drug abuse but likely to put further burdens on pain patients, the US Food and Drug Administration has just announced that it is recommending tighter controls over opioid pain relievers such as Vicodin and Lortab that contain hydrocodone.
The shift in policy –- the subject of a controversial hearing in January –- will limit the number of refills a patient can get before going back to the doctor for a new prescription. It will also mean that a patient must physically take each prescription to a pharmacy, instead of allowing doctors to call the prescription in. For patients in severe, chronic pain and those with physical limitations, these requirements are likely to pose significant difficulties.
In the statement on its Website, the FDA said that opioids (narcotics) do allow people living with chronic pain to “manage their pain as well as significantly improve their quality of life.” But the FDA also said it had become “increasingly concerned” in recent years about the “abuse and misuse of opioid products.”
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