Posted at: 01/31/2013 7:00 PM
By: Benita Zahn
As New York prepares to implement a new law known as I-STOP - which aims to cut down on abuse of the painkiller hydrocodone, the feds are looking at a similar move.
Hydrocodone, as David Kile, a pharmacist and instructor at the Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences explains, is an effective pain reliever - the combination of oxycodone- an opiate - and acetaminaphen.
“The United States has 4.5% of the world's population. But we consume 99% of the world's hydrocodone,” he said.
While oxycodone is a Schedule 2 drug, meaning there are tight prescribing controls, hydrocodone is a schedule 3 - less stringent controls. That will change in New York on February 23rd when it becomes a Schedule 2.
A week ago and advisory panel to the FDA recommended the Feds do the same.
Now Senator Chuck Schumer is supporting the change.
“There are more deaths from hydrocodone and drugs like it than from drugs like heroin and cocaine put together,” he said.
Schumer thinks New York's I-STOP Law is a good start but says drug abuse doesn't stop at state lines.
That's why he believes a change on the federal level will reduce the access, criminals have to the drug- to resell on the street.
“That means it can be sold in fewer places, that means you won't renew the prescription over and over again without the doctor's okay and it means if you have a toothache and you need hydrocodone they'll give you 5 days worth of pills instead of third when you only really need it for 4 or 5 days. “
Like New York's law, Schumer says federal regulations would make exceptions for people who have conditions requiring long term treatment with hydrocodone.
But regulations are only part of tackling the drug abuse problem says Kile, because drug abusers are a determined lot.