white pills

Important New Information Regarding Prescription Hydrocodone

As you may have heard or read, the DEA issued an important ruling on August 22nd that will potentially impact the pain medications that some of your residents use. We do NOT anticipate this ruling changing as the DEA has tagged this as their final ruling.  Here is the information you need to know:


What Happened?

The DEA ruled that all combination products that contain hydrocodone (such as Vicodin, Norco and Lorcet, as well as their generics) will all become Schedule II narcotics as of October 6, 2014.  Existing prescriptions written before this date can be filled (and refilled) as written for the remaining refills or until April 2015, whichever occurs first.   After that date, all new orders will require a new hard copy prescription, similar to other Schedule II drugs (such as Oxycontin, Morphine, Dilaudid, and Percocet).

How Will This Affect Me?

Schedule II narcotics have much stricter requirements for prescribing and dispensing than all other narcotics. The most likely requirements to impact your residents and staff are:

No refills are allowed on Schedule II narcotics – they can be issued for up to a 90 day supply and partial filled in the LTC setting, but whenever the pills on that script are used up, a new prescription will be needed.  Up until this point, hydrocodone combination products could receive 5 refills.

New prescriptions cannot be called in for Schedule II narcotics – the prescriber must write a new prescription every time a new order is needed, or when an existing order is used up or expires.  This is a major change as we could accept telephone orders for hydrocodone combination products in the past.  Faxed scripts for Class II Narcotics are also a valid means of submitting prescriptions.

We will no longer cycle fill (or batch) hydrocodone combination products – if your facility receives a monthly cycle fill from Southern Pharmacy, these products will no longer come with your delivery after October 6th.  They will need to be re-ordered on an as-needed basis.

What Can I Do Moving Forward?


Make sure staff and prescribers get a “heads up” we realize this is a pretty significant change and there might be some frustration at the new procedure in the early stages.  Making sure everyone is aware in advance and preparing can go a long way toward making this a smooth transition.

Have prescribers submit a new prescription with refills before 10/6 – the new rule allows pharmacies to honor prescriptions with existing refills written before October 6th, so any prescription we receive before the transition date would buy prescribers time before a new script is needed.

Encourage prescribers to write future orders for 90 day supply – as mentioned above, DEA regulations allow us to fill partial quantities for up to 60 days from the first fill (covering a 90 day supply).  Having prescribers write for larger quantities would reduce the amount of scripts needed to be written over the course of the year.

 Final Thoughts

We will update you if there are any changes, and will be in touch with information regarding which residents and scripts will be affected.  We are committed to doing everything in our power to make it so that there will be no effect on your residents or staff, and we appreciate your help in those efforts.  Thank you for choosing Southern Pharmacy!