ALBANY – In an effort to curb what lawmakers are calling an unprecedented spike in prescription drug abuse, United States Senator Charles E. Schumer has called on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to swiftly approve regulations that would make it more difficult to access painkillers containing hydrocodone.
According to a Schumer press release, the senator urged FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg to accept recommendations issued last week from the Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee – an expert panel of doctors and scientists – to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance. Such a move would rank the highly-abused prescription drug in the same category as cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) describes a Schedule II drug as any substance or chemical with a “high potential for abuse ... with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence,” according to justice.gov/dea/druginfo.
The abuse of hydrocodone, among the most widely prescribed drugs both regionally and nationally, has rapidly increased, said Schumer, and is extremely dangerous. In 2012, the Upstate New York Poison Control Center reported more than 12,800 cases of prescription drug abuse, even as lawmakers continue to search for a balance between appropriate access to pain relief medications and preventing prescription drugs from getting into the wrong hands, stated Schumer.
“Each day that passes means rising abuse, and even death, at the hands of hydrocodone-based drugs,” added the senator. “With a key hurdle recently cleared, the FDA must tighten up control of one of the most highly prescribed, and abused, drugs on the upstate New York market.”