TYLER (KYTX) - A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel wants tighter restrictions on some of the most commonly prescribed narcotic painkillers. The agency is proposing to reclassify several drugs that contain hydrocodone, including Vicodin.
Hydrocodone is an effective pain killer and a go-to choice for many doctors. But, local pharmacist David Davis says unfortunately it's become more of a recreational drug used by people who don't need it.
"Probably the most abused prescription painkiller out there. So, something needs to be done."
Under the new recommended restrictions, drugs containing hydrocodone, like Vicodin, would be limited to 90-day prescriptions instead of 180-day prescriptions. And, no refills would be given without a doctor visit. Also, they could not be prescribed by nurses and physician assistants.
"The abusers are who I'm frustrated with. The FDA has to do what the FDA has to do." says Danna Busby.
She's concerned these restrictions would make it even more difficult for the people who really need the drug.
"For example, my mother has cancer." she says. "She takes hydrocodone. She has to have that for pain management. But, it's hard for her to get it."
Davis says the problem is the dangerously addictive side effect of hydrocodone. He's been in the pharmacy business for 40 years and says he's seen it all.
"They will resort to fraudulent prescriptions. They will try to call their own refills in posing as a doctor. They will steal prescription pads from a doctor."
The list goes on...
"They will even go so far as to break into the pharmacies. A lot of times, if there's a break-in, hydrocodone is one of the top drugs they're looking for."
Busby says it's a shame her mother has to suffer because of other people's actions.
"It's hurting people who really need it. It's a tragic, tragic thing."
Hydrocodone is an opioid, which means it's in the same family of drugs as oxycodone, morphine, and heroin.
Davis says hydrocodone abuse crosses all genders, ages and races.
In 2011 alone, doctors prescribed hydrocodone more than 131,000,000 times.
The FDA will make the final decision on the restrictions. While it is not bound to follow the advice of the advisory panel, it very often does.