Survey: Two-Thirds of Patients Unable to Get Hydrocodone
About two-thirds of pain patients say they were no longer able to obtain hydrocodone after the opioid painkiller was reclassified by the U.S. government from a Schedule III medication to a more restrictive Schedule II drug, according to the results of a new survey.
Many patients who had been taking hydrocodone at the same dose for years said their doctor would no longer prescribe the painkiller. Over a quarter (27%) said they had suicidal thoughts after being denied a prescription for hydrocodone.
The survey of over 3,000 patients was conducted online by the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association (NFMCPA) and the findings presented this week at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. An abstract of “Hydrocodone Rescheduling: The First 100 Days” can be found here.
Hydrocodone was rescheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration in October of last year to combat an “epidemic” of prescription drug abuse. The rescheduling limits patients to an initial 90-day supply and requires them to see a doctor for a new prescription each time they need a refill. Prescriptions for Schedule II drugs also cannot be phoned or faxed in by physicians.
The reclassification quickly made a drug that was once the most widely prescribed pain medication in the country – at nearly 130 million prescriptions each year – to one of the hardest to get.