NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — There is a new push under way to reclassify a highly addictive and potentially dangerous narcotic painkiller that may already be in your medicine cabinet.
Hydrocodone, better known by its brand name Vicodin, is derived from opium poppy like heroin.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Monday, there are shattered lives behind the prescription drug addiction epidemic.
Laura Bustamante lost her father, Bryon Sheffield, one of four gunned down in the Medford drug store massacre on Father’s Day 2011.
“It should not be so easy to get our hands on a highly addictive narcotic,” Bustamante told CBS 2’s Gusoff.
In the Medford rampage, 33-year-old David Laffer shot and killed four people execution-style inside Haven Pharmacy as part of a plan to steal painkillers.
Teri Kroll lost her son, Timothy, when he overdosed on painkillers.
“He became addicted in a very short time,” Kroll told Gusoff.
Together, Kroll and Bustamante are pushing for a change in the way hydrocodone is dispensed.
The painkillers are often prescribed to teens for sports injures. Experts said it becomes a gateway to deadly heroin.
“As their addiction builds, somebody taps them on shoulder and says, ‘Look, heroin is the exact same thing and it’s only $10,'” Dr. Jeffrey Reynolds with the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence told Gusoff.
“Everyone who watches TV or goes to the movies knows heroin is a bad thing. They don’t know this stuff is a bad thing. They say ‘it’s on mom’s medicine shelf,'” Sen. Charles Schumer said.
Schumer on Monday announced his bipartisan Safe Prescribing Act of 2013, which would reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II controlled substance.
Under the stricter guidelines:
- Doctors would no longer be able to phone in a prescription
- No refills would be allowed
- Only a one-month supply would be filled at a time
“You can’t prescribe 180 pills to an emergency room patient who twisted her ankle. You can’t give 90 pills to a dental patient who had a tooth pulled,” Kroll told Gusoff.
Hydrocodone is one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the nation.
Experts said it’s no wonder the number of Americans addicted to heroin nearly doubled in four years.
Six weeks ago, New York State became the first state in the nation to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II drug. Supporters said doing it on the federal level will ensure the same strict controls nationwide.
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