Citing concern over increasing reports of addiction and overdoses, a Food and Drug Administration safety panel has recommended new restrictions on access to the commonly-used painkiller Vicodin and other products.


The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the panel voted 19-10 to suggest that Vicodin and other products containing hydrocodone be reclassified as Schedule II, placing it alongside narcotic painkillers like cocaine and percocet.

The proposed change would mean that hydrocodone -- currently a Schedule III substance -- would be subject to stricter regulation regarding access, storage and prescribed dosage. If the panel's recommendation is followed, it would mark a departure for the FDA, which has rejected past calls from the Drug Enforcement Administration to reclassify the substance, one of several drugs referred to as opioids because of their resemblance to opium derivatives.

A 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than 16,500 people died from opioid oversoses, more than any kind of drug, regardless of legal status.

But opponents of the panel's findings said that reclassifying hydrocodone could also make doctors more reticent to prescribe it to patients with a legitimate need for it, and not just addicts.

"I hope people in pain won't suffer as a result," said Lynn Webster, president-elect of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

Watch NewsyScience's reports on the panel's recommendations, published on Saturday, below.

["The Husband's Vicodin," by Sharyn Morrow, via Flickr Creative Commons]