Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control, today applauded the decision by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to move drugs containing hydrocodone, such as Vicodin and other painkillers, from schedule III to schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act.

The change is intended to help reduce the growing rates of hydrocodone abuse. It means doctors can only write prescriptions for 30-day supplies of pills and patients must get new prescriptions in order to receive refills.

“The DEA’s decision to place these painkillers in a more serious category of narcotics is an important step in the ongoing battle against prescription drug abuse,” Feinstein said. “Painkillers containing hydrocodone are some of the most commonly abused prescription drugs, and strengthening their regulations will help combat the growing epidemic of prescription painkiller abuse.”

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, in 2012 approximately 2.5 million Americans were addicted to opioids, a group of drugs that includes painkillers, many of which are hydrocodone-based.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 16,917 overdose deaths involved opioids in 2011.

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