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Doctors Who Prescribe Hydrocodone Need To Know This

hydrocodoneThe American Medical Association (AMA) released a new fact sheet to assist physicians in complying with new federal regulations on prescribing hydrocodone and help avoid disruptions in patient care. The rule, effective October 6, 2014, reschedules hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) into Controlled Substance Schedule II. Millions of patients will be impacted by this new rule from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the new resource will help physicians understand the rule and avoid interruptions in access to medically necessary HCPs for their patients.

“The AMA is strongly committed to combating prescription drug abuse and diversion while at the same time preserving patient access to medically necessary treatments for pain,” said Dr. Robert M. Wah, President of the AMA. “This new fact sheet explains how new regulatory changes impact both physicians and pharmacists, which will help ensure patients continue having access to the care they need under the new federal rule.”

Here are some of the new guidelines that may affect your practice and patients:

Impact on Prescribers Starting on October 6, 2014:

  • Prescriptions for HCPs must be written on a hard copy, original prescription or electronically transmitted where e-prescribing of C-IIs is allowed by state law, the prescriber is certified to e- prescribe C-IIs, and the pharmacy is certified to accept electronically prescribed controlled substances. Fax transmission is not allowed.
  • Prescriptions for HCPs cannot be called into a pharmacy.
  • Prescriptions for HCPs cannot be refilled (unless the prescription was issued before October 6, 2014). Note that many health insurers will not honor these refills and that many pharmacies will not be able to refill prescriptions issued prior to October 6, 2014 due to state law limitations and some pharmacy safety and quality systems and processes.

Impact on Patients Starting on October 6, 2014:

  • In many cases, prescriptions for HCPs issued prior to October 6, 2014 will not be refillable due to state law restrictions or feasibility pursuant to some pharmacy’s safety and quality systems and processes. Please check with your pharmacy. Also note that your health plan may not honor such refills; patients should check with their health insurer.
  • New prescriptions for HCPs will not have refills.

Click here for the full fact sheet.

(Photo by Guian Bolisay via Flickr)


  1. I must find another general practice doctor- The one I have had for 10 years has to refer me out to other doctors I have multiple issues he cannot deal with. The daughter/ relative does insurance billing so is of little use. I must go out of network for an outpatient vein ablation. She is the one causing discord for not doing her job. Today some mediator calls me saying to come in and talk about finding another doctor in the group. I said he can release me as a patient if he likes but I see no reason to take a trip in to discuss this. I was hoping to get my leg out-patient procedure done since he is familiar with the problems. I am not the only one dissatisfied with this office. I looked at his reviews, it was never like this years ago. I am aggravated, to say the least. With Medicare and Medi-cal plus taking pain medication for years, it will be difficult to find another doctor. I cannot function daily activities because of the pain. I have multiple x-rays, CTs, Ultrasounds to back up the necessity. All of this is going down because of family employees. Having worked 25 years as a nurse I know when something is fishy.

  2. I find laughable the journalists that state that pure Hydrocodone time release meds like Zohydro can be smoked, snorted or injected, thus abusing in such a way. Hydrocodone must be orally ingested to be metabolized in liver. PERIOD. Yet I read this “chicken little” worry over and over. I also read where A Dr was helped better in his pain by IV NSAIDs. Stating NSAIDs are superior pain relievers. Many of us intractable pain patients have STARTED on NSAIDs and IBUPROFEN without success. Not to mention terrible stomach problems ranging from pain to bleeding. For many, hydrocodone is the only tolerable med that helps a patient come close to normal life. APAP added is probably a larger problem if studied. The numbers of overdose don’t break down legitimate pain patients from recreational users. And the numbers are small when compared to the fact that approximately 300million people live in US alone. Life is not perfect and abusers WILL find heroin waiting with open arms. While the intractable suffer from the ridiculous, FAST AND FURIOUS DOJ, OVER REACHING DEA FEDERAL GOV. Let Drs practice medicine instead of Feds.

  3. I resent the government interfering in healthcare. Dr’s know what they can provide for their patients. If a Dr. is overprescribing, then confront him/her professionally, or through the legal system. But don’t make it harder for the legitimate patient who needs pain relief. Most Dr.s are extremely conscientious.

    • This is true– For doctors, it’s called CYA- And I do not blame them. But when A patient has been on the same meds for years it’s just not prudent or right to make them suffer when they totally have a clean background and never abused their medicine.

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