Addiction psychiatrist Stuart Gitlow, M.D., argued at last month’s meeting of the AMA House of Delegates that hydrocodone combination products (Vicodin) should be rescheduled as recommended by an FDA panel.
“We are in the middle of what the CDC describes as a prescribed opioid abuse epidemic, and Vicodin leads the way,” Gitlow, a member of the Section Council on Psychiatry and the AMA’s Council on Science and Public Health, said at the meeting. “The reason is because it is easier to prescribe than other narcotics in Schedule 2. The way to correct that is to make it so refills and telephone scripts are not allowed, because that is how this epidemic is caused.”
But the resolution to have the AMA support the rescheduling was opposed by physicians in nursing homes and hospice care who argued it would interfere with care of patients with chronic pain. Karen Riley, deputy director for strategy at the FDA Office of External Affairs, testified at the meeting that the agency had received hundreds of public comments about the issue and was still assessing the recommendation. She noted that a decision would be made later this year. ■