The DEA wants to increase controls over prescription painkillers containing hydrocodone. Under the proposed changes, hydrocodone-containing drugs like Vicodin, Xodol ,and Lortab would be reclassified the same status as hydrocodone itself, in an attempt to restrict diversion from legitimate distribution to the black market.
Most drugs known to contain hydrocodone actually contain a mixture of ingredients . Vicodin, for example, is a combination of hydrocodone and acetaminophen. Hydrocodone itself is already Schedule II, but until last week’s release of Zohydro, there were no single-entity hydrocodone drugs on the market.
The proposal would move “hydrocodone combination products” (HCPs) from Schedule III classification to Schedule II. Both Schedule III and Schedule II drugs are considered to have legitimate, legal medical uses; what differs is their potential for abuse and diversion to the black market.
The DEA claims there’s evidence to show that Hydrocodone Containing Products are now among the “top 10 most frequently encountered drugs” in enforcement actions, and that self-reported non-medical HCP use has increased by 35 percent between 2002 and 2012.
According to the data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health … in 2004, over 17.7 million Americans age 12 years or older reported lifetime nonmedical use of HCPs as compared to over 11.9 million reported for oxycodone products. In 2012, the corresponding data for HCPs and oxycodone products were over 25.6 and 16 million, respectively.