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New FDA Rules For Hydrocodone Combination Drugs

Prescription pain pills

Drugs like Vicodin and Lortab containing hydrocodone and other ingredients, like acetaminophen or Tylenol, are the most commonly prescribed medications in the country. But they're now harder to get. In this edition of Vital Signs, Dr. Brett Johnson of Methodist Charlton Medical Center explains how these pain-fighting drugs have been reclassified to help reduce abuse.

From the interview with Dr. Johnson…

Why the need for the change? “The problem is they really have a high potential for abuse and for potential death. It’s estimated there are 45 deaths of U.S. citizens die each day from unintentional drug overdose of prescription pain medication meds.”

How prescription access change? "Doctors could call in a refill or nurses could fax in refills. You can no longer do that. There’s a special prescription paper in Texas that we get from the DPS (Department of Public Safety) and with that prescription, you can only do a month’s supply.

"No mail order. The physician takes the risk of mailing this to the patient which a lot of physicians will not do.

"And the other thing is that a lot of patients will have to come to the physician’s office to pick up the prescription.  If the patient has an original prescription prior to October 6 with the refills, those refills are still going to be good until April 8. After April 8, refills will not be accepted anymore."

For more information:

FDA on Reclassification 

USA Today: New restrictions on hydrocodoneto take effect

Hydrocodone: Uses, Side Effects, & Dosage Guide

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.