A new report has found that the switch of hydrocodone to a Schedule II narcotic has not reduced long-term opioid prescribing, but has increased opioid dispensing within 30 days of surgery.
The report, which will appear in the May issue of Anesthesiology, looked at privately insured, opioid-naïve adults undergoing general or orthopedic surgeries between 2011 and 2015. This information, they said, would help them determine whether or not a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency reclassification of hydrocodone in 2014 from Schedule III to Schedule II had a negative effect on opioid dispensing within 30 days of surgery, and in long-term opioid dispensing.
The study looked at more than 65,000 patients. Of those, it found that long-term prescriptions beyond 90 days were similar before and after rescheduling, but that there was an increase in opioids prescribed within 30 days of the surgery.
“Among patients treated by surgeons who frequently prescribed hydrocodone before the Drug Enforcement Agency 2014 hydrocodone rescheduling rule, rescheduling did not impact long-term opioid receipt, although it was associated with an increase in opioid dispensing within 30 days of surgery,” the study authors said.
The magazine’s editors said that while the rescheduling was intended to reduce unnecessary hydrocodone use, the move to reschedule the drug to a schedule II narcotic was not effective.