Vicodin has been reclassified

Q: I have chronic back pain, and I’ve been taking Vicodin for about a year. Why are the rules changing about how it is prescribed and how often I have to see the doctor? — Henry G., Evanston, Ill.

A: Let us explain. Vicodin, a combination of the powerful opioid pain reliever hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, is being reclassified as “possibly” highly addictive and prone to abuse, and will now be considered a Schedule II drug. The current rash of abuse of prescription drugs has made it important to establish more control over how Vicodin is dispensed. Drug-related overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death for Americans ages 25 to 64 (60 percent of drug overdoses in 2010 were from prescription drugs). In 2010, Vicodin was the most prescribed medication in the U.S., with 131 million prescriptions filled.

So, instead of allowing your doc to call the pharmacy to renew your prescription every six months, these changes mean you’ll have to see your doc in person for a new written prescription, and you’ll hand deliver it to the pharmacy every three months. For people with legitimate health issues — like you, Henry — this should make little difference. You’ll continue to get the medication you need to control pain (true, with a little more effort). But seeing your doc every three months when you are taking a potentially addictive drug and have a chronic condition is better health care anyway.

It’s hoped that many people with chronic back pain will try physical therapy again, so they can relearn or retry core muscle strengthening. That way, this new regulation may help some people, maybe many, to get rid of part or all of their chronic back pain and its limitations on their life.

So we see no problem with tightening the Vicodin reins a bit and making prescribing doctors more hands-on. Good doctors won’t mind.

Dr. Mehmet Oz is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Dr. Michael Roizen is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute.FeaturesHealth & Fitness

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Union threatens legal action after Police Commission expands use-of-force policy

San Francisco’s police union is pursuing legal action after the Police Commission… Continue reading

City Attorney seeks to recoup ‘illegal profits’ gained by Walter Wong through city contracts

San Francisco will seek to recover “illegal profits” gained by well-known permit… Continue reading

SF Police Commission votes to expand use-of-force policy

Decision to bypass union negotiations could set stage for litigation

Free Muni for Youth program expansion halted by SFMTA budget crisis

Low- and moderate-income kids can still travel for free

Newsom orders multiple counties to shut down bars, indoor restaurants as COVID-19 cases rise

As confirmed cases of COVID-19 rise in California, Gov. Gavin Newsom on… Continue reading

Most Read