A letter is going out to doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals in New York alerting them that the widely abused prescription painkiller hydrocodone is now a Schedule II controlled substance under New York State law.
Going into effect this week, the change from Schedule III to Schedule II subjects all strengths, formulations and combination products of hydrocodone to a variety of stricter controls, including a prohibition on automatic refills.
The schedule change was mandated as part of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s Internet System for Tracking Overprescribing law, or I-STOP, which was signed in to law last year in an effort to rein in abuse of addictive prescription drugs like hydrocodone.
“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.”
According to a recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, Hydrocodone is among a group of opioid drugs that contributes to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths. The report also noted that drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, and the majority of those deaths were accidents involving addictive painkillers.
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.