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Watch out pill heads. Tighter controls needed for Vicodin, panel says

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 28th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Hydrocodone, the active ingredient in the popular painkiller Vicodin, may soon be designated as a schedule II narcotic to help stem the epidemic of deaths due to prescription drugs. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel recommended the motion, noting that the drug is often over-used.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The advisory panel voted 19 to 10 to recommend to the FDA to reclassify the drug, which would put the drug in the same category as the widely abused medication such as fentanyl and OxyContin.

Patients will get fewer pills of hydrocodone in each prescription and refills will have tougher restrictions, if the change is approved by the FDA. Pharmacies handling prescriptions would have stricter guidelines for storing and handling the drug.

The most restrictive government category for pharmaceuticals is Schedule II. Hydrocodone is currently a Schedule III drug. Ninety-nine percent of all hydrocondone produced across the globe is consumed in the U.S. More prescriptions are written by doctors for the drug than for the leading hypertension medication and antibiotic.

Vicodin contains a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone is in a group of drugs called opioid pain relievers. An opioid is sometimes called a narcotic. Acetaminophen is a less potent pain reliever that increases the effects of hydrocodone.

Vicodin is used to relieve moderate to severe pain. Those who use the drug are advised  that it may impair thinking or reactions. Patients are advised to avoid driving or operating machinery until you know how Vicodin will affect you. Avoid drinking alcohol, as it may increase your risk of liver damage while taking acetaminophen.

One sobering statistic is the fact that prescription drugs, most notably narcotic painkillers like hydrocondone, contribute to or cause more deaths that cocaine and heroin combined. Fatalities due to drugs have surpassed deaths caused by crashes of motor vehicles, which for many decades had been the leading cause of deaths due to accident in the U.S.

Vicodin has been prescribed for 40 years and with very few restrictions. Because it is perceived to be less risky than some of the other painkillers that are narcotics, hydrocodone is widely prescribed by dentists as well as general practitioners.

Officials in drug enforcement have long complained that for many years that hydrocondone is highly addictive causing it to be widely abused.

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