Health
9:00 am
Thu February 28, 2013

New law for prescription Hydrocodone

A potent prescription drug is now considered a "Scheduled 2" controlled substance.  Doctors and pharmacists across New York State are receiving an open letter from the State Attorney General.

The state letter  alerting them to the new prescription drug law that went into effect this week.  Hydrocodone - a painkiller--  is highly addictive.  

WBFO News spoke with Black Rock Pharmacy owner Brad Arthur.  Arthur says the new drug law includes a prohibition on automatic refills.

"The patients need to go back to a prescribing physician for a new order each and every time," said Arthur.

Arthur also serves as chairman of board of National Community pharmacists Association. 

The abuse issue is very real, but there is also a legitimate  need for these medications, and if these folks aren't able to get them, the consequences can be sever," noted Arthur.

But Arthur said it is certainly a step in the right direction to help ease the prescription drug abuse epidemic. 

The change was mandated as part of the Attorney General's I-STOP law to rein in abuse of addictive medications.

“Hydrocodone is highly addictive and widely abused,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “By implementing new rules for hydrocodone, including ensuring follow-up visits with patients instead of providing automatic refills, medical professionals can prevent more New Yorkers from being trapped in a damaging cycle of addiction. This rule change will ensure that those who need pain medication are protected and those who abuse it are detected.”

Statewide prescriptions for hydrocodone filled increased from 3.8 million to 4.5 million from 2007 to 2009, an increase of 18.4 percent, while those for oxycodone have increased an astonishing 82 percent. In many regions of the state hydrocodone is the most commonly prescribed controlled substance:

  • Albany County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Albany County, followed by zolpidem (Ambien®), then alprazolam (Xanax®).
  • Erie County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Erie County, followed by zolpidem (Ambien®), then alprazolam (Xanax®).
  • Jefferson County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Jefferson County, followed by oxycodone.
  • Monroe County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Monroe County, followed by oxycodone, then zolpidem (Ambien®).
  • Nassau County: In 2008 and 2009, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Nassau County, followed by zolpidem (Ambien®), then oxycodone.
  • NYC: Hydrocodone and oxycodone were the most commonly prescribed opioid analgesics in NYC in 2010, with more than 787,000 hydrocodone prescriptions filled that year.
  • Onondaga County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Onondaga County, followed by oxycodone, then alprazolam (Xanax).
  • Suffolk County: From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Suffolk County, followed by oxycodone, then zolpidem (Ambien®).
  • Westchester County: In 2008 and 2009, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed controlled prescription drug in Westchester County, followed by zolpidem (Ambien®), then oxycodone.

Below is a copy of Attorney General Schneiderman’s open letter to medical professionals:

February 27, 2013

This open letter is addressed to physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals who prescribe or dispense medications containing hydrocodone in the State of New York.

Effective this week, Hydrocodone (dihydrocodeinone) has been added to Schedule II of Section 3306 of the New York State Public Health Law. Common brand name pharmaceutical preparations containing the hydrocodone include Vicodin®, Lortab®, Tussionex®. This action renders all products containing hydrocodone, including but not limited to hydrocodone in combination with acetaminophen or ibuprofen, Schedule II.

For details on the additional restrictions that are now in effect for medications containing hydrocodone, including inventory requirements and restrictions on refills, please consult the New York State Department of Health, Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement website at: www.health.ny.gov/professionals/narcotic/

As you know, prescription drug abuse is a serious and growing problem in New York State and across the nation. Your cooperation in implementing the rescheduling of hydrocodone will reduce instances of illegal diversion and abuse, and ultimately save lives.

Thank you for your dedication to your patients, and to the promotion of public health in our state.

Sincerely,

Eric T. Schneiderman

New York State Attorney General