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Hydrocodone Reclassification Takes Effect Oct. 6: Are you ready?

Posted Date: September 30th, 2014 | Categories: Columbus Personal Injury Lawyer, Credentialing, Health Care & Businesses, Individuals, Licensure & Disciplinary, Social Security Disability, State Employee Disability (STRS, OPERS, PERS, OP&F)


new rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) taking effect Oct. 6 reclassifies hydrocodone combination products as Schedule II controlled substances, establishing restrictions that will require considerable changes to prescribing practices.

Here are the steps you need to take to ensure your patients who need these medications to alleviate pain don’t have to go without them:

  • Be prepared to issue new prescriptions. The new rule does not permit refills for prescriptions written after Oct. 6. While the rule does allow prescriptions issued before Oct. 6 to be refilled through April 8, 2015, many pharmacies may not be able to process refills because of computer system limitations.
  • Issue only hard-copy prescriptions or eScripts. Pharmacies will be prohibited from filling prescriptions delivered over the phone or via fax, with the exception of a limited quantity for emergency treatment only.

    Note that eScripts can be used only if state law permits and the prescriber is certified to ePrescribe Schedule II substances. Pharmacies also must be certified to accept eScripts for controlled substances.

  • Determine whether your allied health professionals will be able to write prescriptions. Depending on your state’s restrictions around Schedule II substances, non-physician members of your team who have prescriptive authority may not be able to continue issuing prescriptions for hydrocodone combination products. If that is the case, you also may need to modify your collaborative practice agreements accordingly.
  • Notify your patients of the new requirements and processes. Make sure your patients understand that their new prescriptions will not be refilled and are aware of the procedures they will need to follow going forward.

For a convenient handout or office reference, download the AMA’s printable fact sheet (log in) containing this information and additional details for physicians, patients and pharmacists.

The AMA and other groups have warned the DEA (log in) about the potential unintended consequences of reclassifying hydrocodone combination products since the agency made the proposal early last year. Eliminating phoned-in prescriptions and refills could make it difficult for some patients to get the pain relief they need, especially patients in nursing homes and those with persistent pain and disabilities.

Visit the AMA’s Web page on combating prescription drug abuse and diversion under “federal agency and administration activities” to learn more about this advocacy work.

AMA Wire



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