New Restrictions for Hydrocodone Likely to Increase Criminal Charges

Hydrocodone is a highly addictive painkiller that has become one of the most widely prescribed drugs in the United States, namely because it had fewer restrictions to be prescribed by doctors than other painkillers. The federal government is in the process of finalizing new restrictions on hundreds of medicine that contain hydrocodone which would limit physicians’ ability to prescribe certain quantities of the drug.

The new regulations affect drugs like Vicodin, Lortab, and their generic equivalents and treat those drugs in the same manner that other powerful painkilers such as codeine and oxycodone are currently treated. Patients will be limited to one 90-day supply of medication and will not be able to get a refill without actually seeing a medical professional. The new regulations are slated to go into effect in approximately 45 days, so early October.

This change is a major shift because in the past, hydrocodone has been easier to prescribe than other opioids, in part because it was only sold in combination pills and formulas with other ingredients such as aspirin and acetominophen which are considered to be non-addictive. Previously, a prescription for a medication containing hydrocodone could be refilled five times before the patient needed to see the physician again. The ability to frequently refill made this drug a go to choice for medical professionals because it was easy to prescribe for any type of temporary or chronic pain.

Decreasing the ability to refill hydrocodone without seeing a physician is a move aimed to curb prescription drug abuse. A side effect may become patients trying to circumvent the regulation and trying to find creative ways to get the medication. Currently, hydrocodone is one of the more common drugs involved in prescription fraud cases, and with these new restrictions, the assumption is that the frequency of these types of charges will only increase.

If you are being investigated for prescription fraud related to hydrocodone or any other type of medication, it is imperative that you protect your rights and not speak to law enforcement without the advice and guidance of an attorney, which is typically provided in what is called pre-arrest representation. If you have already been charged with obtaining a controlled prescription by fraud, this is a felony in North Carolina and the consequences to your life can be significant. A skilled Raleigh drug lawyer will have knowledge of how these cases are handled in the Wake County Court System and will be able to navigate the court process to get you the best possible result.

Damon Chetson

Damon Chetson is a Board Certified Specialist in State and Federal Criminal Law. He represents people charged with serious and minor offenses in Raleigh, Wake County, and the Eastern District of North Carolina. Call (919) 352-9411.