BRADENTON – U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is praising the Food and Drug Administration's recommendation of tighter controls on prescription painkillers using the active ingredient hydrocodone. The recommendation is similar to legislation introduced by Buchanan to reschedule hydrocodone combination drugs from a schedule III to a schedule II drug – making them more difficult to prescribe and obtain. Buchanan's district is among many in Florida that have been ravaged by the horrors of prescription drug addiction.
By early December, the FDA plans to submit its formal recommendation package to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reclassify hydrocodone combination products into Schedule II.
“Too many of our loved ones are dying every day from prescription drug overdoses and are abusing hydrocodone painkillers for non-medical purposes,” said Buchanan in a statement responding to the announcement. “Today’s announcement could go a long way towards combating an epidemic that wreaks havoc on countless families and communities across our nation. I urge HHS to immediately accept and implement the FDA’s recommendation.”
In February, Buchanan and Sen. Edward Markey, D-MA, wrote a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg urging the agency to immediately adopt the recommendation of its expert advisory panel who voted 19-10 to place new restrictions on narcotic painkillers containing hydrocodone. The two members of Congress had worked together on the Safe Prescribing Act of 2013 (H.R. 1285).
While the United States makes up only 4.6 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 99 percent of its hydrocodone. Emergency room visits involving hydrocodone rose from 38,000 in 2004 to more than 115,000 in 2010. These drugs are now the most widely prescribed painkillers in the United States. The DEA has supported a reclassification since 1994.
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