Evaluation of opioid prescribing after rescheduling of hydrocodone-containing products

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Institutional prescribing trends of hydrocodone-containing products (HCPs) before and after the Drug Enforcement Administration's rescheduling of HCPs were evaluated.


A retrospective evaluation was performed on 6 oral opioid analgesics on the hospital formulary that were prescribed to patients treated at Texas Children's Hospital and Pavilion for Women for the 6 months before and after the rescheduling of HCPs on October 6, 2014. Patients were eligible for inclusion if they were prescribed any of the following oral agents: HCPs (e.g., hydrocodone with acetaminophen), codeine-containing products (e.g., codeine, codeine with acetaminophen), morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone-containing products (e.g., oxycodone, oxycodone with acetaminophen), and tramadol.


During the 12-month study period, a total of 38,928 inpatient orders and outpatient prescriptions were processed for the studied agents in both locations; the majority were orders for inpatients. An overall reduction in the total number of opioid prescriptions was observed after the rescheduling of HCPs. Substantial increases in the proportional use of codeine were observed in all 4 settings after HCP rescheduling. Data for each of the agents revealed a shift in prescribing patterns centered along the HCP rescheduling date of October 6, 2014, and revealed a decrease in HCP use across all areas with an accompanying increase in codeine-containing products, oxycodone-containing products, and tramadol.


The rescheduling of HCPs resulted in a reduction in HCP prescriptions but was accompanied by increases in the use of codeine-containing products and tramadol in all settings.

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