Changes to Hydrocodone Classification

According to the 2012 Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, nonmedical use of prescription drugs ranks as the second most common class of illicit drug use in the United States. After more than 10 years of debate and deliberation the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has made a ruling that provides significant changes to hydrocodone prescriptions, which are the most commonly written U.S. prescriptions.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, as of October 6, 2014 hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) will be reclassified to a Schedule II, which would increase the controls put on it. There is a five-category progressive classification for controlled substances and the scheduling categories are based on the degree of a drug’s potential for abuse or misuse. The purpose of this change is to minimize misuse/abuse of the drugs while still ensuring patients have access to medications needed to lessen their pain.

Some of the effects of the reclassification are:

(1) all hydrocodone prescriptions will now require a hard copy to be filled (telephone, facsimile, verbal or email orders will not be accepted);

(2) Schedule II medications will not have refills;

(3) HCP prescriptions issued before October 6 and that are authorized for refilling can be refilled until April 8, 2015.

Additional information is available at