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New DEA Rules for Hydrocodone Combination Medications

bottle of pillsAfter October 3, 2014, many Veterans may notice VA prescription changes for hydrocodone combination (HC) medications. It's important to know how these rule changes affect your HC prescription when using My HealtheVet.

Brand names for HCs include AZDONE, LORCET, LORTAB, IBUDONE, TUSSIONEX or VICODIN. VA prescription bottles will typically list HYDROCODONE and another medicine such as ACETAMINOPHEN. These medicines may be used to relieve pain or to reduce coughing.

The change comes from the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The new rule changes HC medicines from a Schedule III drug to a Schedule II drug. They will now be more strictly controlled. The DEA did this because these medications were found to be highly abused, habit forming and potentially deadly in overdoses. These stricter regulations should improve their safe use for everyone.

If you have a prescription for a hydrocodone-containing medication and use My HealtheVet's Prescription Refill feature, the number of refills showing on the 'Refill My Prescription' page may reflect your original prescription. It will change when your doctor re-writes the prescription based on the new restriction on refills and expiration date. Refills of new HC prescriptions will no longer be allowed on or after October 3, 2014 and quantities will be limited to a 30-day supply.

Each VA Medical Center pharmacy will make changes to make sure there is a smooth transition of HC prescriptions for their Veterans. In some instances, the HC prescription may continue to appear for a few weeks or months. If you have questions, it is best to contact the pharmacy at your local VA Medical Center. The phone number is on every prescription label, or you can look on the local VA Medical Center website under 'Health Care Services' for the pharmacy telephone number.

If you need to discuss your prescription with your health care team, remember that you can use My HealtheVet Secure Messaging to reach out and ask specific questions in this safe and secure channel.

Learn More

Drug Enforcement Agency rule change announcement (PDF)

Managing Your Meds: My HealtheVet's Rx Refill and Secure Messaging

Ask a Pharmacist App