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Home News Hydrocodone Combination Products Now DEA Schedule II Drugs
Kenny Vigil
505-827-2619 Office
505-470-2290 Mobile

Hydrocodone Combination Products Now DEA Schedule II Drugs

October 6, 2014 - Opioid Safety - Information

Starting today, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is treating hydrocodone combination products as a more restrictive category of controlled substances (Schedule II from Schedule III). Hydrocodone combination products are drugs that contain hydrocodone and another substance, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. Drugs that include hydrocodone are used to treat moderate to severe pain and relieve cough. Brand names include Vicodin, Lorcet, Norco, and Tussionex.

Hydrocodone combination products are the most commonly prescribed opioid pain relief drugs. More than 721,000 prescriptions for these products were dispensed in New Mexico in 2013, totaling 41% of all opioid prescriptions filled.

The Controlled Substances Act places drugs with accepted medical uses and the greatest potential for harm and abuse in Schedule II. A federal analysis shows that hydrocodone combination products have a high potential for abuse, and abuse may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. The addition of non-narcotic ingredients does not diminish the abuse potential of these products. An FDA Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee concluded that these drugs meet the criteria for the more restrictive categorization and recommended that the DEA reschedule them.

In New Mexico, the most common prescription opioid drugs involved in 2013 deaths were oxycodone (98 deaths), morphine (53), hydrocodone (48), methadone (29) and fentanyl (13). Hydrocodone was only available in hydrocodone combination products in 2013.

The main impacts likely to be seen by consumers are:

  • Prescribers cannot authorize refills of hydrocodone combination products after October 6, 2014. 18% of prescriptions for these drugs filled in NM in 2013 were refills, and 4% were refills beyond the 2nd refill.
  • Patients with hydrocodone refills remaining on prescriptions issued before October 6, 2014 can receive those refills until April 8, 2015.
  • Prescribers cannot phone or fax prescriptions for hydrocodone combination products to pharmacies after October 6, 2014. In the event of an emergency situation where the drug is needed and it is not practical to provide a written prescription, a prescriber may call in a prescription to a pharmacy which may provide enough medication for the duration of the emergency.

This action changes the rules around prescribing, but Schedule II medications will continue to be readily available for legitimate medical use. Patients using hydrocodone combination products should consult their prescriber about changes in process.


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Versión en Español

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Los Productos de Combinación con Hidrocodona Están Ahora en la Lista II de Drogas de DEA