Federal regulators criticized for not tightening controls over hydrocodone

Federal regulators criticized for not tightening controls over hydrocodone

With the abuse of medicines containing the addictive narcotic hydrocodone - including Vicodin, Norco and Lortab – have shown a dramatic and dangerous rise of late, health agencies, drug counselors, lawmakers, and relatives of overdose victims, have expressed frustration at the fact that federal regulators have, since 1999, been putting off a decision pertaining to the tightening of controls over hydrocodone.

The 12-year delay in the federal regulators’ final decision about hydrocodone – the second most-abused pain drug – has been agonizing, to say the least --- all the more so as the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration are apparently still studying whether to move hydrocodone-containing medicines to Schedule II category of medicines from the less restrictive Schedule III.

Advocates for tighter controls over hydrocodone opine that it is time the government took concrete action to save lives --- since a study funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that nearly 8 percent of the 12th-graders in the US have abused hydrocodone in the last year.

And, though there are few national figures on deaths, another study has revealed that, in Florida alone, hydrocodone led to 910 deaths and was present in the bodies of 1,803 others between 2003 and 2007.

Noting that overdose of hydrocodone is fast becoming “a health care epidemic,” Cindy Harney – who has founded a support group in Florida for families of victims of overdose on prescription drugs – said: “I don't understand how they (the government) can sit back with all this devastation going on all around us.”