U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants to place more stringent requirements on the prescription of the drug hydrocodone, an opiate used as a painkiller but also a highly addictive substance that, when abused, can lead to heroin use.
Schumer’s bill would classify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance. This means that along with a written prescription, a doctor must give the OK to reauthorize it every 30 days. “There’s no limit on how much can be prescribed, that’s a danger to everyone,” the Democrat from New York said.
In addition, the law would require distributors to keep the drug in a safer location in pharmacies. The legislation also increases penalties for trafficking the drug illegally.
“We cannot allow these drugs to fall into the wrong hands,” Schumer said. “Too many tragedies and crimes have occurred over prescription drugs.”
Schumer said there is support for the bill, and he doesn’t expect opposition. He is a co-sponsor along with Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia, and Mark Kirk, R-Ill.
Schumer said it’s a matter of balancing having these drugs available for those who need them with keeping the excess off the street. The drugs are over-prescribed, Schumer said.
Also troubling, more youths are abusing the pills. This leads to heroin addiction, which is a cheaper yet similar high, said Jennifer Faringer, director of DePaul’s National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. DePaul is a private organization providing mental health and addiction services. She said more are seeking treatment.
“With increasing numbers of young people seeking pain meds to get high, we can predict with certainty that there will be an increasing number of youth in need of treatment,” she said.
There is also an education campaign going on regarding the dangers of prescription drugs, said Patrick Seche, director of the Strong Recovery/Addiction Psychiatry Division, University of Rochester Medical Center.
Written by Jessica Alaimo, Staff Writer
7:02 AM, May 1, 2013
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Sen. Charles Schumer urges tighter controls on hydrocodone