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Health Agencies Update
September 24, 2014

DEA Tightens Restrictions on Hydrocodone Combination Products

JAMA. 2014;312(12):1185. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.12756

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is tightening restrictions on the prescribing of hydrocodone combination products.

Hydrocodone combination products, which are the most widely prescribed opioid medications, were previously classified as Schedule III drugs. But concerns about increasing rates of opioid painkiller overdose and diversion prompted the DEA and other organizations to request since 2004 that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reclassify the products as Schedule II drugs. The HHS by law must set the policy and the DEA enforces it. Medications containing only hydrocodone were already Schedule II drugs. In January 2013, a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee voted 19 to 10 to endorse rescheduling the combinations, and in February HHS backed the plan.

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