OD writing a prescription

Reclassifying hydrocodone would limit OD prescribing power

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced plans to formally recommend reclassifying hydrocodone-combination drugs.

Optometrists in 24 states would lose prescribing authority.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) long has sought to designate all drugs containing hydrocodone as Schedule II controlled substances, which is more restrictive than the current Schedule III. The FDA's recommendation would grant authority to do so.

The AOA is on record as opposing the FDA's action. Although the "upscheduling" is designed to prevent opioid abuse, it also could limit access to much-needed treatment for patients.

For example, the AOA Advocacy Group estimates that optometrists in 24 states would lose prescribing authority for hydrocodone-combination drugs unless a state-level fix can be implemented. Yet no organizations or officials have ever cited optometry's prescribing authority as contributing to the abuse of opioids.

Over the past year, the AOA and like-minded groups have worked to convince lawmakers and agency officials that patient needs and prescribing authority should not fall victim to a one-size-fits-all approach. The AOA and groups representing cancer patients, MDs, dentists, pharmacists and pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors have raised concerns about the effects—and effectiveness—of upscheduling.

Congress and the FDA have listened to and even confirmed the validity of such concerns. However, the FDA has decided to go ahead with upscheduling based on the "unique history of this issue and the tremendous amount of public interest." The AOA Advocacy Group anticipates the DEA will begin a formal rulemaking process in 2014 to make the reclassification final.

How you can help

The AOA will continue to present the concerns of doctors and patients to every government official who can influence the ultimate outcome. Optometrists worried about the impact on their practices can help by:

  • Sharing concerns or information bolstering the AOA's position by emailing Matt Willette of the AOA Washington office or calling 800-365-2219.
  • Following updates on this crucial topic from the AOA Advocacy Group (member log-in required).

November 6, 2013

comments powered by Disqus