Hydrocodone prescriptions decline nationwide

In the year after the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rescheduled hydrocodone combination products from Schedule III to II, 26.3 million fewer hydrocodone combination product prescriptions were written and 1.1 billion fewer were dispensed, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Comparing data from the 12 months before rescheduling with data from the 12 months after rescheduling shows a 22% decrease in dispensed hydrocodone combination product prescriptions and a 16% decrease in dispensed hydrocodone combination product tablets. ¬†The study indicates that refills accounted for 73.7% of the decline and refills were “essentially eliminated by March 2015.”

DEA’s final rule rescheduling hydrocodone combination products, while prohibiting refills, can permit patients to receive multiple prescriptions that can provide up to a 90-day supply.