A recent recommendation by a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel about hydrocodone elicited responses from American Association of Nurse Practitioners president Angela Golden, DNP, FNP-C, FAANP, and American Academy of Physician Assistants president James Delaney, PA-C.
The recommendation to reclassify hydrocodone from a Schedule III drug to Schedule II would not bar NPs or PAs from prescribing hydrocodone products. Rather, it would limit prescription of the drugs in states where healthcare professionals are not authorized to prescribe Schedule II drugs.
"While we fully understand worries about diversion and abuse and we share the same concerns, we believe there is insufficient evidence to ensure that reclassifying hydrocodone will successfully address abuse and misuse of pain medications," Golden said in a statement.
"Nurse practitioners are educated and trained to safely prescribe these medications for patients. We are committed to preventing the illegal use of prescription drugs and share concerns about abuse and diversion of hydrocodone and other prescriptions drugs.
"However, we believe that federal and state authorities already have significant tools to address these legitimate concerns. We are deeply concerned that the advisory committee's recommendation will have the unintended consequence of denying appropriate and effective treatment to patients with a legitimate clinical need," Golden said.
Delaney shared similar sentiments in his address to committee members. "It is questionable whether rescheduling the drug to the Schedule II classification would significantly alter diversion and abuse," Delaney said. "However, rescheduling the drug would most certainly limit access to individuals who may benefit from its use by limiting the number of healthcare professionals who can prescribe it and through the imposition of additional barriers associated with Schedule II drugs, such as the inability to phone in prescriptions or refill the prescription."
Delaney added, "AAPA stands ready to work with the House and Senate to develop legislative policy to address the diversion and abuse of hydrocodone containing substances and combinations. In the meantime, however, we urge Congress not to limit access to appropriate pain medication."
To view the complete FDA report, visit http://tinyurl.com/FDArecommendation.