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HEALTHWATCH: FDA might tighten reins on Vicodin

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WASHINGTON (USA TODAY) -- The DEA for nearly a decade has pushed for tighter restrictions on Vicodin, the nation's most widely prescribed drug. The chronic abuse of such painkillers, and devastating toll associated with this abuse, has reached epidemic proportions in the United States.

The agency could get its wish later this month when the Food and Drug Administration considers the DEA's request to put Vicodin in the same category as OxyContin and other powerful narcotics.

For the millions of patients across the nation who rely on Vicodin for relief from severe pain, the new rules could sharply restrict the number of pills they can get and drastically increase the number of doctor visits necessary to get them. Many patients who can now get a six-month supply would need to visit their doctors every 30 days to renew a prescription.

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