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WV Senate passes limits to hydrocodone prescriptions

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The state's second leading cause of overdose is hydrocodone and products that contain it, according to Sen. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, who told lawmakers they were taking an important step in addressing the crisis with Senate Bill 11.

The bill passed the Senate unanimously March 25, and it would change the classification of controlled substances. The measure must go to the House of Delegates for Debate.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Corey Palumbo, D-Kanawha, explained the measure before the vote.

Palumbo said hydrocodone and any medications that contain hydrocodone would be limited to prescriptions of 30-day periods and would allow only two refills.

Palumbo said hydrocodone was one of the most abused medications in West Virginia.

Jenkins told lawmakers the U.S. Senate also is working with a bill that targets hydrocodone.

He said the Senate Health and Human Resources Committee discussed tightening the regulations on hydrocodone even further, but West Virginia would only have been the second state to move the drug from a Schedule III classification to Schedule II.

"Hopefully we're not going to have medicine cabinets adding a four-, six-, eight-month supply," Jenkins said.

He explained that a Schedule II drug, by federal standards, is one with a high potential for abuse and that may lead to psychological of physical dependence. A Schedule III drug, Jenkins said, has a potential for abuse with moderate or low risk of physical dependency.