Hydrocodone Prescription Regulations to Change

By Eric Crosswhite

Published 09/03 2014 09:40PM

Updated 09/03 2014 10:19PM

NEOSHO, MO.--- "Hydrocodone is a pretty prevalent drug out there," said Tim Mitchell, pharmacist.

Tim Mitchell is a pharmacist and business owner in Neosho. He is one of many who will be impacted by a ruling being handed down from the Drug Enforcement Agency. 

"It's going to affect patients, it's going to affect pharmacies, it's going to affect physicians. It's going to make it a little more difficult," said Mitchell.

Hydrocone will move from a schedule three to a schedule two drug. Those medical classes are likely to have a much bigger impact than you may think. Pharmacists say a new prescription will need to be written every month, compared to past prescriptions of 4, 5 or even 6 months. 

"In some situations, it may mean us calling the physician and asking for another prescription to be handwritten and the patient would have to pick that up and bring to the pharmacy for us to fill," said Mitchell. 

It won't only be more work for patients, but for pharmacists as well, including more security protocols and more detailed recordkeeping. That's an even bigger problem because, Mitchell says, hydrocodone has become a very hot item. 

"Actually, it's probably one of the most popular drugs in most pharmacies," he said. 

For some patients, it's the key to serious pain relief. For others, it's an addiction. 

"The only thing we have to go on is the patient's complaint. I don't have an X-ray or a lab or any test that tells me this person deserves hydrocodone and this person does not," said Dr. Craig Pendergrass, Prime Care Family Medicine.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 23 million people in the U.S. have misused or abused hydrocodone. Doctors say with a problem that large, something had to be done.

"Any time a pain pill is the number one prescription in the United States, there is a problem. We know, I've seen estimates where 25% of these scrips are diverted to the street," said Dr. Pendergrass. 

Both pharmacists and doctors agree, the key to getting your prescription filled in the future without a problem is communication. 

"They're going to need to start conversing with their pharmacist as well as their physician about how this is going to affect them," said Mitchell. 

The change in regulations for hydrocodone will go into effect on October 6th. 

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