Pain Medication Reclassification Not Included in Final FDA Bill

On Monday, lawmakers announced that an amendment to reclassify some pain medications to a more strict status will not to be included in the final FDA user fee agreement.  The American Health Care Association (AHCA) is supportive of this decision, as the amendment called for the reclassification of some Schedule III drugs that contain hydrocodone, including Vicodin, to Schedule II status.  While AHCA recognizes that some Members of Congress are trying to curb drug abuse in their communities, the long term care community sees the unintended effect for skilled nursing facility patients:  it will be more difficult for SNF residents to receive their medications in a timely manner. The restrictions around Schedule II medications make them more difficult to obtain than other scheduled drugs, which causes complications for those residents who require medications in off hours. AHCA staff met with the sponsors of the legislation and committee staff during this debate to convey concerns. The final bill language, announced Monday evening, did not include the amendment. Congress is scheduled to vote on the final package this week.  We will pass along updates as we receive additional information.