In a move aimed at restricting access to potentially deadly prescription painkillers, the federal government has begun to reclassify hydrocodone-based painkillers like Vicodin into a category reserved for medical drugs with the highest potential for harm. This reclassification limits supplies to 90-day prescriptions, as opposed to their current 180-day limit. The announcement was made on August 21 and is expected to take in approximately one month. The new measures also mean that patients will primarily have to present an in-person prescription to their pharmacist and can no longer rely on prescriptions by fax or phone.
Opponents of the rescheduling include drug manufacturers, pharmacies and chronic patients, many of whom claim that this creates a roadblock to patients who legitimately need these prescriptions to manage their conditions. Mark Fleury, policy analyst for the American Cancer society, also points out the limitations this will place on nurse practitioners to administer medication in select areas of the country.