Americans continue to abuse controlled substance prescription medications, including hydrocodone combination products (HCPs). As a result, the DEA has recently moved HCPs from Schedule III to Schedule II under the federal Controlled Substances Act.
Physicians should be aware of this change and how to remain compliant with all federal and state guidelines in order to serve their patients and protect their license to practice medicine.
While hydrocodone is itself a Schedule II drug, HCPs (hydrocodone plus other substances, such as aspirin or acetaminophen) had been classified as less-restrictive Schedule III drugs. However, it was found that HCPs have a high risk of abuse, which can lead to serious consequences for the abuser, including physiological or psychological dependence. Surveys of 8th through 12th graders from 2002 to 2011 revealed that twice as many students abused the Schedule III HCP Vicodin as abused Schedule II Oxycontin. These data confirm that HCPs are some of the most dangerous medications on the market, resulting in the decision to switch HCPs to the more tightly controlled Schedule II.
The DEA rule also specifies the regulatory controls applicable to Schedule II substances including HCPs, as well as the sanctions that apply to those who mishandle them. Licensees of the Texas Medical Board, the Texas Board of Nursing, and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy must also comply with state law requirements. These include the requirement that prescriptions written for HCPs must be written on an official Department of Public Safety (DPS) prescription form and no refills may be authorized. Advanced practiced medical nurses and physician assistants may not prescribe HCPs unless they are providing care to hospice patients or are practicing in hospital facility-based practices under Texas law. They also must be registered with the DEA and DPS.
If you have encountered difficulty following state and federal laws concerning the prescribing of controlled substances, you should contact an experienced Texas license defense attorney as soon as possible. Oscar San Miguel, Attorney at Law, can help you protect your license to practice in Texas.