TODAY   |  October 25, 2013

FDA recommends tighter control on pain killers

More than 130 million prescriptions were written in 2011 for painkillers like Vicodin and Lortab and now the U.S. Food and Drug Administration wants to tighten access to these drugs to avoid possible abuse. NBC’s chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> recommending new restrictions for a highly addictive painkiller. we're talking about drugs like vicodin that include hydrocodone which are the most widely prescribed in the country. we welcome in dr. nancy snyderman . what does this rule mean for the average person that's taking vicodin for post-op or current pain?

>> it's not going to be a problem but women can by seeing multiple doctors getting the drugs and they're highly addictive and abused. they're looking for those that need them for long-term pain and those that use them and abuse them. right now the fda has been urged by the drug enforcement agency to make these tighter because it's so easy to get them and the fda has held off. but i expect now with the blessing of hhs, they are going to absolutely put in the new criteria which means right now you can get six prescriptions within a six month span. they're not going to say no. you have to see your doctor every three months. right now i can call in a prescription to a pharmacy. you have to have a written prescription to prove it's for you.

>> but do you think the new rules will cut down on abuse.

>> that's big the problem. they said no it's going to put the burden on the patient that need it and may not cut down. but last year over 450,000 emergency room visits for overdoses on this. it's the hydrocodone part. and the problem is they're really good medicines but they're also stupid medicines to get addicted to because the one thing they do for anybody that's ever been on them after surgery is they make you constipated. i know that seems like a little thing. but you have a bowel system that doesn't work and you're addicted to these drugs. they're tough to get off. i don't think it's if it will happen. it's when it will happen. the fda will push this one threw.