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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Oct 31, 2013

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is hoping to impose restrictions on prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin. The FDA announced last Wednesday that it is recommending tighter restrictions on opioids due to the growing level of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.

A representative from the FDA states that drug abuse has, “Reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States.” Sometimes dubbed “hillbilly heroin” Opioids are highly addictive and they are abused by millions of people.

This has been a contentious issue amongst chronic-pain sufferers as they say the new regulations would limit access to drugs they essentially need to survive. In a major policy shift, the agency said in online notice Thursday , that drugs containing hydrocodone should be subject to the same restrictions as other narcotics like oxycodone and morphine.

This change is policy comes more than a decade after the Drug Enforcement Administration asked the FDA to reclassify hydrocodone so it would be subject to the same restrictions as other addictive painkillers.

The FDA has yet to issue a formal announcement about its decision, which has long been sought after by patient advocates, doctors, and federal lawmakers. Hydrocodone has been easier to prescribe in recent years because it can only be sold in combination pills and formulas.

In 2011, American doctors wrote over 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone, making it the most prescribed drug in the country. The ingredient is found in Vicodin  as well as other generic drugs.

While the drug is useful for chronic pain management it is consistently listed as the first or second most-abused medicine in the U.S. every year.

The new restrictions would make it harder for individuals suffering from pain to receive their medications. It would make prescriptions for drugs containing hydrocodone only last for 90 days as opposed to the 180 day limit it is today.