New Rules On Prescribing Hydrocodone Combo Meds Become Effective October 6

Aug 26, 2014 - Oct 06, 2014


Doctors are reminded that effective October 6, 2014, medicines containing hydrocodone will be reclassified as Schedule II substances, in line with oxycodone and morphine.

This reclassification will apply to all drugs that contain both hydrocodone, which by itself was already classified a Schedule II drug, and specified amounts of other substances, such as acetaminophen or aspirin. As Schedule II drugs, patients will be limited to up to a 90-day supply of medication and will have to see a provider to get a refill. (Under the Schedule III classification, a prescription could be refilled five times before the patient had to see a physician.) Doctors will not generally be allowed to call, fax or e-mail in a prescription to a pharmacy; instead, patients will have to present a written prescription.

Prescriptions that have been filled at least once before October 6, 2014, and have authorized refills remaining, are allowed to be dispensed during a transition period, until April 8, 2015, in accordance with federal rules. However, pharmacies are not required to honor such refills during the transition period, and indications are that many California pharmacies may choose not to. Doctors should be prepared for patient requests for new prescriptions.

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