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FDA to Tighten Pain Medication Regulation, Targets Dental Procedures

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New regulations proposed by the Federal Drug Administration seek to tighten the regulation of pain medication, including doses popularly prescribed for dental procedures. The regulations are targeted at drugs containing hydrocodone, a powerful narcotic often used for persistent and short term pain relief.

The New York Times reports, ?The drugs at issue contain a combination of hydrocodone and an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or aspirin and are sold either as generics or under brand names like Vicodin or Lortab. Doctors use the medications to treat pain from injuries, arthritis, dental extractions, and other problems.?

The changes would primarily impact dentists by reducing the amount of refills that can be prescribed automatically. Additionally, patients would be required to bring in subsequent refill prescriptions by hand, rather than having them phoned in by doctors and dentists. Proposed changes would reduce the prescription times by half, to 90 days worth of pills per prescription.

Officials estimate that recommended changes will go into effect early in 2014, after approval from the Department of Health and Human Services and adoption from the Drug Enforcement Agency, which has been advocating such changes for years.

This development could have a substantial impact on the creation of new dental products or new dental materials targeting patients who deal with chronic or persistent pain.

How do you think the new hydrocodone regulations will impact your practice?

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