East Stroudsburg, Monroe County – It will soon be harder to get some potentially addictive prescription pills. The federal government has declared stricter regulations are coming for certain Oxycodone pills starting this fall.
Hydrocodone combined with Acetaminophen is currently a schedule three drug. In October, it will become a schedule two drug which means doctors and users will face more restrictions. Stroud Area Regional Police Lieutenant Kevin Transue noted, "The federal government started to see that there is a dependency problem that people are stealing this drug more frequently."
The suggestion to more strictly regulate it first came up about 15 years ago. Nothing happened until addiction problems reached epidemic levels. "There's millions and millions and millions of prescriptions across the United States a year,” said former narcotics agent Troy Serfass.
The changes will mean you need a written prescription for the pills. Doctors cannot simply call the prescription into the pharmacy. For more than a 90 day supply, you must return to the doctor’s office to get a refill prescription.
Some people worry that this will impact people who legitimately need the medicine. Serfass believes there can be a good balance of helping people with legitimate needs versus feeding addictive behaviors. "It's a balance that we could do as long as the physicians are rightfully prescribing it to a patient that medically needs it,” he said.
There have been discussions that reducing the availability of narcotics might lead more people to use heroin. Transue said heroin use has already reached a saturation point. "It's so prevalent right now that it's almost disturbing,” he said.
The new regulations begin October 6th.