HealthDay News — A new rule taking effect on October 6 reclassifies hydrocodone combination products as Schedule II controlled substances, according to a report from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Non-physician providers may not be able to issue prescriptions for these products, depending on state regulations.

Refills will not be allowed for prescriptions written after October 6, 2014, although prescriptions issued earlier can be refilled through April 8, 2015. Pharmacies will no longer be able to fill prescriptions delivered over the phone or via fax; electronic prescriptions can be used if state law permits, if the prescriber is certified to prescribe these substances, and if the pharmacy is certified to accept the electronic prescriptions.

The DEA has suggested that patients should be made aware of these issues and the new procedures they will need to follow

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“The American Medical Association and other groups have warned the DEA about the potential unintended consequences of reclassifying hydrocodone combination products since the agency made the proposal early last year,” said the AMA in news release.

“Eliminating phoned-in prescriptions and refills could make it difficult for some patients to get the pain relief they need, especially patients in nursing homes and those with persistent pain and disabilities.”