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Morrisey supports FDA plan to reclassify hydrocodone combination products

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West Virginia's Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wants the federal government to make it more difficult to get hydrocodone combination products.

Morrisey sent a letter to Michele Leonhart, Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, voicing support for rescheduling of hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to Schedule II.

As a Schedule II drug, hydrocodone combination products, such as painkillers Lortab and Vicodin, would be harder to prescribe. Under the Controlled Substance Act, Schedule II drugs usually require handwritten prescriptions with no refills as well as other restrictions. Schedule III drugs, on the other hand, may be written or called in to a pharmacy and refilled five times within six months.

Drugs that are classified as Schedule II are defined as drugs that have a medical use but also have a high potential for abuse and dependency. Schedule II drugs are considered more dangerous than Schedule III drugs.

"We believe this will represent another small step in combating the prescription drug epidemic in our state," Morrisey said. "Rescheduling hydrocodone is one way to help prevent this drug from falling into the wrong hands and will ensure that these drugs are handled with the same precautions as other pain medications, such as oxycodone, hydromorphone, and fentanyl.

"Sadly, we're painfully aware of the consequences of the drug epidemic in this state, and especially hydrocodone abuse. I hope the DEA acts as quickly as possible with this rulemaking so West Virginia will be able to have more tools to help combat this serious and devastating epidemic. This is a serious problem, and it demands urgent action."

Last month, Morrisey announced that his office will partner with local law enforcement agencies across the state to expand access to secure disposal locations for unwanted or expired prescription drugs.