The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has announced that it is forcing Big Pharma to reduce 25 percent or more of its manufacturing of Schedule II opiate and opioid medications in America in 2017. Hydrocodone, also known as Vicodin, will be experiencing a manufacturing cut of 66 percent.
The demand for these prescription medications is decreasing, according to the DEA. The Aggregate Production Quota (APQ) determines the total amount of controlled substances required to meet necessary medical needs. In 2017, the APQ will be reduced for medications such as morphine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone and hydromorphone. Other medications will also experience reduced manufacturing orders due to decreased demand.
A partial element leading to this reduction is also that the 25 percent manufacturing buffer applied annually to maintain reserve stocks of these medications has been eliminated. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provided guidelines to doctors and those prescribing opioid-based medications for chronic pain to reduce prescriptions. The Controlled Substances Act was enacted with a quota system to reduce/eliminate black market opioid drug sales. The idea behind it was to control the ingredients in the medications and the amount of the medications manufactured, to prevent the black market from flourishing.
The APQ is determined on several factors including the legitimacy of a true medical need for the drug and how many pills are dispensed by pharmacies annually. The data provided by drug manufacturers is also taken into consideration as a means of showing how much is made versus how much is sold in pharmacies.
As the APQ is met, the DEA makes necessary adjustments to prevent an excess amount of opioid medications from being manufactured. The DEA does have the authority to adjust a drug manufacturer’s quota at any given time. The factors surrounding abrupt changes include new drugs being approved for distribution, product recalls and declines or increases in demand. The DEA has been diligent about issuing warnings to prescribers about the high probability and potential for abuse in opioid and opiate medications.