No drugs for you, pal...you'll just get addicted.
February 17, 2004 1:08 PM   Subscribe

DEA wants to reclassify low grade painkillers as morphine equivilants. The DEA, in all it's wisdom, has decided that the next target on the "war on drugs" is hydrocodone, the most commonly used prescription pain killer in the country. "Ah," you say..."but surely there's congressional oversight for that sort of radical change in the Drug Schedule." But you'd be wrong. Funny old world when the budget and staff keeping getting bigger and bigger and the only way they can win a battle is to chase the arthritic.
posted by dejah420 (33 comments total)

 
Sooner or later, this entire heap of nonsense will collapse under its own weight. It's too bad so many people are getting hurt along the way, and it's too bad there doesn't seem to be anything we can do but wait the bastards out.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:17 PM on February 17, 2004


If people want to get high they will find a way to get high. Why punish pain sufferers?

This is ridiculous.
posted by konolia at 1:19 PM on February 17, 2004


[reading the articles now]
Read sometime ago when this was becoming epidemic. The pharmaceutical companies had resolved this. They were going to redesign hydocodone. Its current design allows it to be abused by crushing it up then smoking or injecting it. To stop its abuse, the redesigning, they would make it so the drug is a "slow to release" in your system.
This would prevent one from the affects of getting "high" through the abused methods. Sounds like the government is working backwards.
posted by thomcatspike at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2004


Top DEA officials confirm that the agency is eager to change the official listing of the narcotic hydrocodone -- which was prescribed more than 100 million times last year -- to the highly restricted Schedule II category of the Controlled Substances Act.

This is a little misleading -- if you don't count Rush Limbaugh, the actual number of prescriptions is closer to 75 million.
posted by uosuaq at 1:26 PM on February 17, 2004


Worried Pain Doctors Decry Prosecutions

Pain Relief Network

Here's a previous post on this subject.
posted by homunculus at 1:28 PM on February 17, 2004


Just keep 'em away from the good stuff. [Not that I'm advocating usage.]
posted by Blue Stone at 1:42 PM on February 17, 2004


nooooooooooooooooooo

Hydrocodine rocks!
posted by delmoi at 2:02 PM on February 17, 2004


The drug, a semisynthetic chemical cousin of opium, produces a morphine-like euphoria if taken without a medical purpose

What is that supposed to mean ? Dosages ? Pain will reduce the euphoria, therefore when used with severe pain it will not give euphoria ? It's a little vague
posted by elpapacito at 2:30 PM on February 17, 2004


Pain will reduce the euphoria, therefore when used with severe pain it will not give euphoria ?

My understanding is that people with severe pain do not get euphoria from opioids, but I am not a doctor, so hopefuly someone who knows can confirm that.
posted by homunculus at 3:00 PM on February 17, 2004


Read sometime ago when this was becoming epidemic. The pharmaceutical companies had resolved this. They were going to redesign hydocodone. Its current design allows it to be abused by crushing it up then smoking or injecting it. To stop its abuse, the redesigning, they would make it so the drug is a "slow to release" in your system.

No. Not at all.

Vicodin != Oxycontin

If hydrocodone was what you think it is, what the government wants to do would make sense. Oxycontin is dangerous, morphine-like stuff.

Hydrocodone is just Vicodin. This rescheduling is ridiculous.
posted by jbrjake at 3:17 PM on February 17, 2004


...though I should add I once knew a girl who got messed up pretty bad by a Vic addiction; it's not (just) Tylenol....

...but it's still just a weak opiate. It's scheduled exactly where it should be; making it stricter is just going to make life harder for anyone who ever has outpatient surgery, or gets in a scrape playing sports, since it's a pretty standard script in my limited experience.

And, since hydrocodone's most common form is Vicodin, it's inherently hard to abuse: if you take a lot, all the acetaminophen makes you vomit.
posted by jbrjake at 3:26 PM on February 17, 2004


Speaking as someone who's taken (prescribed) Percocet:

If this legislation passes, I'm worried for the laxative industry.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:28 PM on February 17, 2004


Hydrocodone is just Vicodin. This rescheduling is ridiculous.
jbrjake, thanks for the correction.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:36 PM on February 17, 2004


It's funny how everybody is all "big pharma is bad" when we are talking about cheap AIDs meds or something, but "hey, drugs are good," when it's a painkiller. Seriously, I'm not in favor of more government regulation, but don't dismiss the extremely addictive nature of hydrocodone. Calling it "just Vicodin" is pretty ridiculous. Do you think the government made up that 48% rise in emergency room visits in three years? Oxycontin has devastated communities in the South acquiring the nickname "hillbilly heroin."
posted by monkeyman at 4:04 PM on February 17, 2004


Calling it "just Vicodin" is pretty ridiculous. Do you think the government made up that 48% rise in emergency room visits in three years? Oxycontin has devastated communities in the South acquiring the nickname "hillbilly heroin."

Okay, I'm the one who said "just Vicodin" before qualifying that it can be addictive, so I assume you're talking to me. Which means you read my post. So I guess you're an idiot. Sometimes, repetition can be a helpful learning aid, so I shall repeat:

Vicodin != Oxycontin

Oxycontin is "hillbilly heroin." It has devastated communities in the south. Its active ingredient is oxycodone. Any fool with internet access (read: monkeyman) can verify this. Just type "oxycontin active" into Google and it'll pop up. Really. I mean it.

Believe it or not, the letters "h-y-d-r-o" do not spell "oxy"

...sigh
posted by jbrjake at 4:39 PM on February 17, 2004


> Sooner or later, this entire heap of nonsense will collapse under its own weight.

Considering the number of other heaps of nonsense that have not collapsed under their own weight in X thousands of years, forgive me if I don't hold my breath.
posted by jfuller at 4:40 PM on February 17, 2004


Funny, isn't it, how the US Government absolutely hates the citizenry.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:56 PM on February 17, 2004


Hydrocodone is vicodin, which is different from oxycodone, the main ingredient of percocet, tylox and oxycontin. Practically speaking, you can achieve the same buzz from vicodin that you do from oxycodone, you just need to take a bit more. They're both potentially addictive, and it's reasonable that the government should make it difficult to obtain these narcotics without the proper physician oversight. At the same time, people who have a legitimate need for these drugs should be able to get them too...
posted by mert at 5:17 PM on February 17, 2004


. . . . produces a morphine-like euphoria if taken without a medical purpose . . . .

What's the connotation here?

Euphoria = Bad?
posted by velacroix at 5:58 PM on February 17, 2004


One person's perspective: I live with chronic pain. Standard analgesics (aspirin, acetominophen, most NSAIDs) can trigger intractable migraine, so I avoid them. Oxycodone and hydrocodone work wonders on my pain, don't cause headaches, and don't get me high. If my doctors are scared out of prescribing medicine I need, I'm up the creek without a paddle.

The quote going through my head (it's from an article about headaches but applies to any chronic pain):
... the usual treatments often are ineffective. It is not realistic to expect these people to accept no relief.
On preview: I'd like a side of euphoria with my pain relief, please.
posted by swerve at 6:06 PM on February 17, 2004


Thanks, mert. This discussion is bizarre. A Google on "hydrocodone addiction" suggests there's a genuine problem with abuse of this substance, and I don't see how the DEA plans would constitute a problem for those who genuinely need it. Read the news report: is there anything that says it won't be presribed? All it suggests is cutting down on routine repeat prescriptions.

A few years ago I was taking DHC (different low-grade opiate) for sciatica after a back injury, and I can vouch for it being seriously easy to edge into addiction territory. Your actual need for painkillers drops, but you become extremely defensive about lowering the dose...
posted by raygirvan at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2004


and I don't see how the DEA plans would constitute a problem for those who genuinely need it.

Doctors are sometimes prosecuted for prescribing pain killers. This will lower the threshold which enables these prosecutions.
posted by homunculus at 7:09 PM on February 17, 2004


That's it. Make it harder for people in pain to get relief. Meanwhile, the real killer substances of abuse, tobacco and alcohol, are subsidized by the government.

So edifying to see Republican administrations unhypocritically fulfilling their vow to keep government out of the lives of ordinary citizens, and their physicians.

Pharmacy nitpicking: hydrocodone != Vicodin. Vicodin, Anexsia, Lorcet, Lortab, etc are acetominophen and hydrocodone. Hydrocodone itself is a schedule II drug while the combo drugs like Vicodin are schedule III. For you budding organic chemists out there, hydrocodone's chemical name is 4,5a-epoxy-3-methoxy-17-methylmorphinan-6-one tartrate (1:1) hydrate (2:5).
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 7:22 PM on February 17, 2004


prosecuted for prescribing pain killers

"362 counts of prescribing controlled drugs outside the normal practice of medicine" sounds a pretty good reason for prosecution.
posted by raygirvan at 7:57 PM on February 17, 2004


It depends on how you define "the normal practice of medicine." Some patients require high dosages to relieve their pain, and a pain specialist with several patients like this would have to prescribe large amounts in order to help them. Certainly there are corrupt and negligent doctors out there, but in general, but a top priority of law enforcement should be to not harm patients with serious needs.
posted by homunculus at 8:19 PM on February 17, 2004


Truth: Doctors don't like to prescribe drugs that put them on DEA lists. I learned how bad this was after a back injury. Since these regulations affect how doctors treat patients, it is clear that this is the government interfering in medical decisions on the basis of what MIGHT happen.

Clearly, automobiles must be banned, because someone MIGHT run over someone else.
posted by Goofyy at 11:35 PM on February 17, 2004


It's funny how everybody is all "big pharma is bad" when we are talking about cheap AIDs meds or something, but "hey, drugs are good," when it's a painkiller.

It's funny how everyone is all "Big agri-biz is bad," when they are talking about GMO and pesticides, but "Hey, food is good," when it's a tasty cake.
posted by delmoi at 12:42 AM on February 18, 2004


Wow, how completely annoying. I'm another one of those that, without hydrocodone, would be in much more severe pain than I currently am.

Euphoria from hydrocodone? I'll agree with swerve. I'll take some of that with my pain.
posted by Plunge at 7:19 AM on February 18, 2004


well, if all these people who are in enough pain to need this drug weren't sinners, then god wouldn't smite them with pain and agony.
posted by fuq at 8:45 AM on February 18, 2004


"The harder one squeezes their hand, the more slips through the fingers." (or something to that effect)

All this will do is limit legitimate uses and users yet do nothing to stop people using it to get high.
posted by LoopSouth at 8:52 AM on February 18, 2004


Of course, having to visit the doctor more often for refills won't hurt their bottom line from more frequent office call charges, neh? Conspiracy theorists?....
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:33 AM on February 18, 2004


Rush Limbaugh and the Sick Federal War on Pain Relief
posted by homunculus at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2004


I knew people who copped to a Vic addiction a decade ago. Typically, the government is clueless: "Oh! Rich White guys are now getting addicted! Better make it harder to get!"
posted by sixdifferentways at 2:42 PM on February 20, 2004


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