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Got Vicodin? Get Ready For Tighter Reins On Pain Pills

Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorThe FDA has recommended tighter rules that will make it harder to get America's most popular prescription narcotic pain pill.

That pill is hydrocodone- commonly known by the trade names Vicodin or Lortab.

It's a potent medication that does a nice job relieving pain, but with that said-- it's a drug that also has a high potential for addiction and other problems... and a drug that many docs prescribe like candy.

Sound like I'm making a judgement call there? Well consider the fact that FIVE BILLION PILLS for this drug are typically prescribed in a single year. FIVE BILLION PILLS.

It makes up 70% of the pain pill market. A hot ticket.

Here's the change: the drug is currently not that hard to get--- easier than what we call Schedule II drugs like Percocet or Ritalin. But it soon will be.

Patients will not be able to get refills for a six month supply-- it'll now be cut to three months or 90 days.  And you need to go see your doctor for that new supply.

A prescription also cannot be called in by phone- it needs to be physically picked up and taken to the pharmacy.

For years, doctors, the AMA, pharmacy lobby groups, and others have pushed to block any change-- they say it inconveniences the patient.

But if you have chronic pain, you should be seeing your doctor regularly-- not just getting refills over the phone.

Am I still sounding harsh? I don't mean to be. For a small percentage of people, this drug allows them to function.

For others, its addictive-- it's abused-- it's sold--it's stolen by their kids-- and it causes people to overdose and die. This IS NOT candy.

Responsible medicine requires responsible guidelines. I'm sorry doctors, the AMA, and others havent agreed.

The change is a good one.

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