The US Drug Enforcement Administration published new regulations regarding the widely prescribed painkiller hydrocodone. More than 65 prescription medications contain the highly-addictive opioid. It’s right up there with oxycodone and morphine, and now it will be treated as such. The new regulations mean that “doctors will no longer be allowed to phone in these [hydrocodone] prescriptions, and patients will not be able to use the same prescription for a refill.” And prescriptions are limited to 30-day supplies.
Hydrocodone is the most widely prescribed painkiller in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 15,000 people die every year from opioid overdosing. The state hit hardest by hydrocodone is Rhode Island. In 2013, more than 22.6 million doses were filed in the Ocean State, which has a population of 1 million. Of Rhode Island’s 1 million residents, 15.6 percent use “non-medical pain relievers.” The nation average is 9 percent. Dr. Traci C. Green, a professor of emergency medicine and epidemiology at Brown University in Rhode Island, says “an aging population with many patients seeking relief from chronic pain is responsible for the growth in overdoses.” Basically, the stuff is everywhere–addicts can get it. One third of Rhode Island’s population is 50 and older.