It will likely be tougher for people to get their hands on Vicodin and similar painkillers next year. The FDA today recommended tougher restrictions for drugs made with hydrocodone, reports Reuters. Assuming the guidelines are approved by the department of Health and Human Services, patients would get fewer refills, and doctors no longer would be able to phone in prescriptions to a pharmacy. Instead, patients would need to present a written prescription.
The New York Times calls the move a "major policy shift" because it would put the narcotic painkillers in the same class as more powerful ones such as OxyContin, which has oxycodone as its main ingredient. The DEA has long pushed for the move, citing growing abuse of the hydrocodone drugs, but groups including the American Medical Association have been leery of making it harder for patients in need to get relief. (Read more Vicodin stories.)