Sen. Schumer wants to stop prescription drugs from becoming "gateway" drugs

Apr 30, 2013

Senator Charles Schumer has a new plan to cut down on prescription drug abuse.  Re-classifying a certain drug could fight the growing epidemic of prescription drug addiction plaguing Central New York.

The Upstate New York Poison Control Center reported over 12 thousand 800 cases of prescription drug abuse in 2011. And the number is only increasing.  Out of the one million residents living in Central New York, 270 thousand have prescriptions for highly addictive hydrocodone based drugs. And as District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick says, prescription drugs are only the beginning.

"Once you become addicted to the painkiller, you don't lose your addiction unless you get yourself into treatment.  Then you take the underground connection, and go from painkillers to heroin."

Schumer hopes to put a halt to this gateway of addiction by stopping it at the source.  He wants to make hydrocodone a schedule II drug, which is defined by its high potential for abuse.  By rescheduling it, the drug would require a written prescription every time the patient needs a refill. He hopes by limiting this abuse, it will in turn, decrease the abuse of dangerous illegal drugs like heroin.

"Prescription drug abuse is particularly troubling and difficult.  Because as the name describes, the drugs are legal when used under a doctor's supervision. Unfortunately, because they are over-prescribed, and because the same drug dealers...after we came down hard on crack and even heroin started moving toward prescription drug abuse."
 
Senator Schumer says the Safe Prescribing Act of 2013 has both Democratic and Republican sponsors.