Changes coming Monday for people who take prescription pain meds

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BONNER SPRINGS, Kan. -- Beginning next Monday, October 6, some commonly-prescribed pain medicines will be harder to get.  The Drug Enforcement Administration is reclassifying drugs such as Vicodin.

Michele Hovermale takes Vicodin to control the pain of two chronic diseases.  She has had her doctor send an electronic prescription to the pharmacy.  It includes refills to cover three months.

"They're just always in the pharmacy. I don't have to worry about it," said Hovermale.

But that changes next Monday.  The DEA is reclassifying all hydrocodone combination drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II to try to cut down on abuse.

"They have to get a new prescription each time. That's the biggest change. They can't bring us a prescription with five refills on it," said Robb Rosenbaum, a pharmacist with DeGoler Pharmacy.

Refills will be banned although doctors will be allowed to give patients multiple prescriptions for up to a 90-day supply.  Phoned-in prescriptions will no longer be allowed.  DeGoler Pharmacy is giving patients a flier outlining the changes, but Rosenbaum still expects people will be caught off guard.

"When we say hey, you need to get a new script.  'Well, can you call the doctor?'  No, no we can't," said Rosenbaum.

The patient will need to do that and then go to the doctor's office to get it.

"A little out of the way, a little inconvenient," said Hovermale.

Doctors may even require an office visit.  Refills written before next Monday will still be honored for six months although not all pharmacies' and insurers' computer systems may be equipped to handle those.

There could be some supply problems at first. Pharmacies won't be able to use hydrocodone combination products they have on hand now for new prescriptions.  They'll need new product that's labeled Schedule II.

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