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Reclassification Of Pain Meds Could Prevent Overdoses

futurowoman via Flickr

The federal government has tightened restrictions on prescription hydrocodone combo drugs to try to reduce overdoses. That could be good news for New Mexico, which has the second highest opioid overdose rate in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Drug Enforcement Agenct now considers the highly addictive pain medication a Schedule II drug alongside oxycodone and methamphetamine.

“We’re hoping that this will reduce the misuse of opioids,” said Dr. Michael Landen of the New Mexico Department of Health, “and as a result, reduce overdose and overdose death in New Mexico.”

Landen said some patients go from doctor to doctor to get more than one prescription for hydrocodone combo drugs that are commonly prescribed for moderate to severe, or chronic pain. As a Schedule II drug this will be much more difficult to do.

Patients with prescriptions written before October 6, 2014, will be able to refill through April of next year. From now on, though, new prescriptions won’t include refills and patients will instead need to get new prescriptions each time they need to refill their pain meds.