Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reclassifying Popular Painkiller Opposed

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Reclassifying Popular Painkiller Opposed

Article excerpt

TAMPA -- Florida's medical regulators have joined a movement in the medical community opposing a law to bump low doses of the popular pain killer hydrocodone into a classification with heroin.

Doctors prescribe hydrocodone annually to some 200,000 people -- young and old -- to alleviate back pain, arthritis or other chronic pain, Matthew Weidner, an attorney for anesthesiologist and pain management groups, told the Florida Board of Medicine.

The board voted Friday to ask Attorney General Bob Butterworth to intervene and allow doctors to continue to prescribing hydrocodone as they have for years.

Hydrocodone, a key ingredient in Lorcet, Vicodin and some children's cough syrups, was included in a bill that toughened penalties for selling so-called designer drugs, including Ecstasy and certain amphetamines.

Under the law, as of Oct. 1 all doses of hydrocodone will be up graded from a Class 3 narcotic to a Class 2 narcotic, which requires stricter record-keeping and physical examinations of a patient each time it is prescribed. Also, prescriptions may not be ordered over the telephone. Until now, hydrocodone up to 15 milligrams was considered a Class 3 narcotic.

Members of the Board of Medicine and several doctors' groups said they didn't know the upgrade was tucked into the law until after it passed. …

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