One person dies every 19 minutes from a prescription drug overdose in the United States.
In an effort to combat "misuse and abuse," the Food and Drug Administration is proposing new restrictions that would change regulations for some of the most commonly prescribed narcotic painkillers on the market.
The FDA's latest proposal would specifically affect hydrocodone combination pills, also known as opioids, which combine hydrocodone with less potent painkillers such as acetaminophen. One example is the drug Vicodin.
Currently labeled as Schedule III drugs, these opioids would, if the reclassification proposal is accepted, be labeled as Schedule II.
This means patients would have to have a written prescription from a doctor -- instead of a prescription submitted orally over the phone -- to access the drugs. And refills would be prohibited; patients would have to check in with the doctor to get another prescription.
A Schedule II classification would also put manufacturing quotas in place for these hydrocodone products. Pure hydrocodone is already a Schedule II substance.