TITLE OF BILL:
to amend the public health law, in relation to designating tramadol as a
schedule III narcotic drug and
certain requirements imposed upon distributors, relating to certain
compounds containing hydrocodone; and
to repeal paragraphs 3 and 4 of subdivision (e) of schedule III of
section 3306 of such law relating to the designation of
hydrocodone as a schedule III narcotic drug
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL:
This bill would place greater controls on hydrocodone, a highly
addictive prescription pain medication, by moving it from a schedule
III to a schedule II control substance. It also includes Tramadol,
another opioid based prescription pain medication, to the list of
schedule III controlled substances.
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section 1 of the bill amends section 3306 of the Public Health Law to
remove from schedule III controlled substances under subdivision
(e) paragraphs (3) and (4), which refer to those drugs that contain
hydrocodone. Section 1 also adds a new subdivision (10) to include
Tramadol, a currently unscheduled opioid, as a schedule III
Section 2 of the bill adds a section 3317 to the Public Health Law
exempting a distributor who is licensed and regulated by the
Department of Health, regulated by the State Board of Pharmacy
pursuant to article one hundred thirty-seven of the education law, and
registered and regulated by the United States Drug Enforcement
Administration, from the storage, reporting, ordering, record keeping
and physical security control requirements for schedule II controlled
substances with regard to any material, compound, mixture or
preparation of Hydrocodone as defined within the section's language.
Section 3 of the bill provides for an effective date.
New York State, like the nation, is in the midst of a severe
prescription drug epidemic.
Prescriptions for opioids, particularly oxycodone and hydrocodone,
have skyrocketed and are second only to marijuana among abused drugs.
In New York City, drug related ER visits
increased 40% between 2004 and 2009 with fatalities from opioid
overdoses alone increasing by 20% between 2005 and 2009.
According to information shared at a Senate Roundtable on
Prescription Drug Abuse held in August 2011 (see
the dramatic rise in abuse
of hydrocodone, which is sold as vicodin, norco and lortab, is of
particular concern. These medications are as addictive as the
better-known oxycodone, morphine and heroin, however the federal
government, and in turn the states, list hydrocodone on the less
restrictive schedule III of controlled substances. This means that
unlike schedule II controlled substances, prescribers can give up to
5 refills without a doctor's visit.
The FDA and DEA have been studying whether to move hydrocodone based
drugs into schedule II controlled substances for over ten years.
During this period prescriptions for hydrocodone have soared as have
deaths from overdoses and violent pharmacy robberies by those
addicted or seduced by the lucrative black market for this highly
sought after prescription. Hydrocodone was the drug stolen in the June
2011 robbery of a Medford pharmacy in which four people were gunned
down. By removing the references in schedule III to drugs containing
hydrocodone, all such medication will be classified in the more
restrictive schedule II. Moving the drug to a schedule II controlled
substance will enhance existing penalties for people who possess or
sell large quantities of hydro cod one. The Special Narcotics
Prosecutor of NYC will also be able to prosecute cases involving
hydrocodone in boroughs outside of Manhattan once the drug is
Tramadol, another opioid with slightly less addictive qualities than
hydrocodone and oxycodone, is not currently on the schedule of
controlled substances. The federal government continues to study
whether to include Tramadol on the schedule, meanwhile, the number of
prescriptions and the number of individuals seeking addiction
counseling for Tramadol addiction continue to rise.
It has been recommended that Tramadol be included as a schedule III
controlled substance. This would limit the number of refills for
Tramadol to 5 without a doctor's visit and pharmacists would have to
store the medicine more securely.
Lastly, this bill would exempt the relevant forms of hydro cod one
from the storage, reporting, ordering, record keeping and physical
security control requirements for schedule II drugs. The purpose of
this bill is to restrict access to highly addictive prescription
drugs not to place an onus on in-state distributors. Therefore, this
exemption is necessary to conform New York's storage and reporting
requirements with those of other states.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:
This act shall take effect immediately.