Bye Bye Vicodin?

You may have heard the news about an advisory panel for the US Food & Drug Administration’s recommendation that the maximum dose of acetominophen (Tylenol, etc.) be reduced on store shelves. It’s a head scratcher because of what the unintended consequences might be. The panel voted 24-13 to limit the maximum single dose of acetaminophen to 650 milligrams. The current single dose of Extra Strength Tylenol, for instance, is 1,000 milligrams. The thinking behind the advisory is that 56,000 people go to the emergency room annually for overdosing on acetominophen. About 200 die each year. In order to protect those folks, somehow taking the advised action will limit the hospital trips and death. Um, would it be safe to say that those folks who are stupid enough to OD on acetominophen will still do it? I mean, this action will only mean that dip shit will have to take more pills.

From the same meeting, the panel is preparing will recommend that Vicodin and Percocet be nuked. It’s tough logic to follow. The panel wants to reduce the OTC dosage of acetominophen for consumers, but leave combination products (such as cold medicines that have acetominophen and other medicines combined) available. But it wants to whack pain killers that have acetominophen and and other products (ostensibly, they will let the hydrocodone part of Vicodin be prescribed???) completely nuked. Their thought is that combination prescription drugs are bad (but OTC combos are fine). Let’s be realistic. Pain killers are combined with acetominophen because the synergistic effect of the two makes the pain killer work in a more efficient manner. That’s good. Separating the two will only lead doctors and patients to achieve the same result on their own (at more expense) without reducing the hospital trips from overdose.

More importantly, with fewer effective pain regimens available for OTC and prescription treatment… folks will, wait for it… Go to the doctor more often for more and different pain treatments. The net result being higher health care costs. Makes complete sense to me. So much for this administration’s desire to reduce health care expenses.

July 2009
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