The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

May 11, 2013

Senators prod FDA over hydrocodone schedule

From staff reports
The Register-Herald

OAK HILL — Fourteen years ago, lawmakers called on the Food and Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Agency to evaluate the scheduling of hydrocodone combination narcotics.

Still, nothing has been done, and Sens. Jay Rockefeller and Joe Manchin, both D-W.Va., asked for an explanation Friday, in a letter to the FDA’s commissioner.

Joined by other lawmakers, the two have been asking the FDA to make hydrocodone a Schedule II drug, rather than Schedule III, meaning it would be more difficult to obtain at a time that abuse of pain killers has become an epidemic.

The two West Virginia senators reminded the commissioner that the FDA’s own advisory board recommended the change.

“It has been 14 years since the initial petition requesting that the FDA and DEA evaluate the proper scheduling of hydrocodone combination drugs,” the letter said.

“Not only is 14 years more than enough time, but this rescheduling process has exceeded the ‘reasonable time’ requirement of the Controlled Substances Act. The American people have waited too long for action from this agency.”

The letter said that rescheduling hydro-codone products is “an important step” in combating prescription drug abuse.