Many injury victims will now face additional obstacles in obtaining access to pain medication prescribed by the doctors. This is because in October, the FDA has changed the classification of Vicodin and other medications that combine hydrocodone with Tylenol and other medications to fall into the same category as straight hydrocodone. To understand this, you has to understand that drugs are classified by the FDA under a 5 tiered schedule. Schedule I drugs being the most restricted and Schedule V drugs being the least restricted. Schedule I drugs are those which are deemed to have no current medically approved application in the United States AND which display a high potential for abuse and addiction. No doctor may write a prescription for Schedule I drugs which include substances such as heroin and LSD.
Schedule II drugs are those which do have a currently accepted medical use in the United States but which still display a high potential for abuse and addiction. Most narcotic pain medications fall within this schedule which includes medications such as morphine and oxycodone.
Schedule III drugs are those which do have a currently accepted medical use in the United States but which have a lower potential for abuse and addiction than those medications placed on Schedule II. Examples of Schedule III drugs include anabolic steroids, some sedatives and an assortment of other medications. Schedule III drugs still require a prescription. The difference being that the prescription for such medication can be made orally or by fax rather than only by hard copy on a prescription pad, and further these medications can be prescribed for longer periods with more refills without any need to see the doctor for a new prescription.
The new change being made by the FDA, which affects injury victims is to move Vicodin and other similar drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II. These medications have always required a prescription, but now they will require a prescription every 3 months and now the prescriptions will have to be obtained in person. These can place a significant burden on injured worker’s who may be living on a significantly decreased income or may even be fighting to receive benefits at all. It means that companies such as Injured Worker’s Pharmacy (IWP) can no longer fill these prescriptions until they receive the actual hard copy prescription rather than simple fax. It also means that injured workers who do not live near their doctors will have to assume the burden of paying for travel to the doctor more frequently to obtain new prescriptions.
There are many reasons, that have not been discussed here, why these changes may be necessary; such as the black market usage of these drugs, the cited over-prescription, and the health risks associated with long term use of these medications; but there is no doubt that injury victims will now face more challenges in dealing with their pain.
If you are having trouble getting access to the medication your doctor is prescribing for you as part of an injury claim, you should contact an attorney to see what your rights are.