Nightly News   |  October 24, 2013

FDA aims to curb painkiller abuse

On Thursday the FDA recommended reducing the number of refills for popular narcotic painkillers, and requiring that doctors write a prescription rather than have the doctor call the pharmacy. NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman reports.

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>>> news story having to do with health care tonight. it's about prescription pain medicines and a change for doctors, hospitals and pharmacists but mostly the patients who take them. the food & drug administration is recommending new restrictions on prescriptions for widely used pain meds in this country. dr. nancy snyderman is here with with more. these are the brands, the meds people are familiar with.

>> the they are hydro codone in combination with aspirin or ateet min finish, lortab or vicodin. today's move by the food and drug administration follows a debate pitting patient who is need narcotics for pain control against otherwise healthy people who access the medications and abuse them. this change would hopefully curb abuse by reducing the number of refills patients can get before going back to see their doctor. it requires having a written prescription rather than having the doctor call the pharmacy. a patient can get a prescription refilled five times over a six-month period before needing a new one. with the new recommendation, a patient needs to see a doctor every three months. not everyone thinks this is a good move. the american medical association and pharmacy organizations are worried this will be a burden to patients who are already suffering.

>> by making hydrocodone more regulated and harder to prescribe and dispense our patients are probably going to have a difficult time getting good control of their the pain.

>> reporter: the drug enforcement agency and health policy experts say prescription drug abuse has now reached a tipping point and something has to be done. in a statement today the fda has become increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse opioid products which have reached epidemic proportions. they are in the same category as oxycontin, adderall and ritalin, drugs with a known potential for abuse. the fda change still require it is blessing of the department of health and human services but that's expected. then the restrictions would go into effect next year. very short time frame , brian.

>> big news in the medical community. dr. nancy snyderman , thank