In a joint pharmacy stakeholder comment letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the American Pharmacists Association, National Association of Chain Drug Stores, National Community Pharmacists Association, and other organizations argued that rescheduling hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to Schedule II will harm legitimate pain patients while doing little to curb abuse.
Rescheduling would mean that patients would need to visit their physicians in order to refill prescriptions for the painkillers, potentially delaying treatment for those with legitimate pain, the letter notes. These patients may have to wait for an appointment or the ability to take time off work to visit a physician, and patients living in rural or medically underserved areas may have to wait even longer to receive treatment. In addition, most patients taking hydrocodone combination products use the medications appropriately, the letter notes.
Rescheduling the medications could also cause inefficiencies in the health care system, the letter adds.
“With approximately 50 million patients taking [hydrocodone combination products], meeting the new demands associated with rescheduling [hydrocodone combination products] may cripple an already overtaxed system,” the letter reads. “Moreover, pharmacies and distributors will have to comply with stricter storage and handling laws for Schedule II controlled substances, and such requirements may cause delays in maintaining an adequate supply of [hydrocodone combination products].”