The FDA is full of surprises. This morning’s news, however, takes the cake. After months of battling and legislative efforts to move Hydrocodone to Schedule II (like Oxycontin, Percocet or Duragesic) the FDA seems to have thrown in the towel. In a press release early this morning they have decided to reschedule ALL hydrocodone products (Vicodin, Lortab, etc) AND Oxycontin to OTC status in the U.S. This means that NO prescription will be needed and consumers may purchase these products from any U.S. pharmacy, as well as certain properly registered convenience stores and vitamin outlets.
According to the FDA:
“These products are costing more money to regulate than it is worth. Given the sequester budgeting squeeze, we feel we have been left with no choice but to de-regulate the entire category. Consumers should certainly speak to their pharmacists about the proper use of these medications. They are still extremely addictive. But by making them OTC we relieve the health insurance industry of an enormous burden (they won’t have to cover them) and law enforcement staffing can be further reduced to meet our new budgeting crisis. Not only that, pharmacy robberies for such products will now be a thing of the past.”
Mixed feelings about this strange move by the FDA are coming in from various health care opinion groups. Physicians are concerned about lower patient volume and the negative financial impact. But most pharmacists do not seem to be surprised, since, of course, today is April Fool’s Day.
Last modified: April 17, 2023