FDA Panel Calls for More Restrictions on Painkillers

Better for thousands to suffer than for one addict to overdose


Drugs containing hydrocodone combined with other analgesics may soon be subject to more stringent prescribing requirements if the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) accepts the recommendation of its expert panel to reschedule the widely used drug.

The FDA's Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee voted 19 to 10 in favor of reclassifying hydrocodone-containing compounds from Schedule III drugs under the Controlled Substances Act to Schedule II.

For 2 days, the panel heard impassioned testimony for and against reclassification, with those in favor emphasizing hydrocodone's potential for addiction and abuse, and those against warning that millions of legitimate pain patients would suffer if its availability becomes more limited.