For many years, hydrocodone was the most prescribed drug in the United States—overall, not just among controlled substances—and available only in immediate-release form, mostly in combination with acetaminophen. These combination drugs, which were the vast majority of what was offered, were Schedule 3 opioids. However, in its pure form, hydrocodone was always a Schedule 2 substance.
Hydrocodone also was arguably the most abused pharmaceutical, partly because it was prescribed in such large numbers. As a controlled substance, therefore, it’s not surprising that a portion of the prescriptions was abused. In October 2014, hydrocodone combination products were rescheduled as Schedule 2, making refills impossible and requiring a trip to the prescriber for a new prescription. The reason for the rescheduling is hard to argue against: because of its abuse history and potential, hydrocodone should have been moved to the most restrictive class long ago. [Read more…]