In 2004, the DEA first requested that hydrocodone combination drugs be elevated to Schedule II from Schedule III. While the FDA rejected that request at the time, they have now changed their position. The Department of Health and Human Services has approved the change and hydrocodone will be rescheduled as Schedule II. The change will take effect in mid-October.
Beginning in October, hydrocodone combination painkillers (drugs containing both hydrocodone and other medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen) will be moving from a schedule III controlled substance to a schedule II controlled substance. Commonly known medications containing hydrocodone include Vicodin®, Lorcet®, and Lortab®.
Due to numerous debates on its effects and diversion potential, hydrocodone products will now be subject to more serious prescribing rules, such as limitations on quantities prescribed and on how frequently a physician can prescribe these medications.
Compared to the recent change in schedule status for both tramadol and carisoprodol, the change to Schedule II for hydrocodone may have a bigger impact, especially in the pain management arena and in workers’ compensation. Only time will tell if this is a welcome change in terms of abuse, diversion, and addiction issues.
More Information can be found at:
The final rule from the Federal Register can be found here: