The federal government is tightening the prescribing practices for the most commonly used painkiller drug in the United States. The New York Times reports that the narcotic ingredient, hydrocodone, will now be placed in a much tougher and more restrictive category effective this month. This is one of the most far-reaching efforts to stop the epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse by Americans.
The new rule makes it so doctors will no longer be able to call in prescriptions by telephone and patients will not be able to get refills of their prescription. Patients will have to return to a healthcare professional in order to get a new prescription, rather than just obtaining a refill. Drugs containing hydrocodone will be kept in special vaults in pharmacies.
The rule change has received some criticism, as the shift makes it harder for patients with chronic pain and those who cannot easily make the extra trip to their health care provider. However, federal data suggests there is an epidemic of painkiller abuse in the United States. A senator of West Virginia, a state with one of the highest rates of painkiller abuse, called the rule change “a tremendous step forward in fighting the prescription drug abuse epidemic” that would “undoubtedly help prevent these drugs from getting into the wrong hands and devastating families and communities.”
The uses of prescription painkillers has increased dramatically in the past 10 years as prescriptions for OxyContin, Percocet, Vicodin and other pain medications have climbed 300 percent. Painkiller abuse in the United States takes the lives of more American than heroin and cocaine do combined. Prescription drugs now account for the majority of drug overdose deaths in the country, surpassing traffic accidents. In total, 17,000 people every year, or 46 people a day, die of overdosing on prescription opioids.
Some health experts would attribute this epidemic to misinformation, but some believe doctors are overprescribing these drugs and are not monitoring the potential side effects of these painkillers. Given the number of deaths, it is not surprising there are prescription overdose lawsuits against physicians and pharmacies.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury as a result of misleading drug information, incorrectly prescribed medication, or overprescribed painkillers, you may want to consult with the prescription drug overdose lawyers at Lopez McHugh. Our prescription overdose attorneys can provide you with a confidential consultation to determine if you may be entitled to compensation.