DEA rule rescheduling hydrocodone effective Monday

Some pharmacies may not be refilling pending fills

With DEA’s final rule moving hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) from Schedule III to the stricter Schedule II going into effect Monday, a top question on community pharmacists’ minds is likely whether they will be honoring refills of prescriptions for HCPs written before October 6.

The answer to that question will vary, according to Michael H Ghobrial, PharmD, JD, APhA Associate Director of Health Policy. Some pharmacies may not be able to reprogram their computer systems in time to recognize, as of October 6, a C-II as refillable until April 8, 2015. And only several states have officially stated that they will allow a similar accommodation in state law authorizing refills on a federal Schedule II drug for up to 6 months.

While DEA stated in its final rule that prescriptions for HCPs issued before October 6 and authorized for refills may be dispensed before April 8, 2015, APhA has been informed that some pharmacies, including some chains, may not be refilling pending fills because of software issues with prescription processing tools, confusion around conflicting state laws, and payer policies.

As a result, some pharmacists are being told not to honor refills on or after October 6 and to help patients obtain new prescriptions. These patients may encounter long waits at their physician’s office as many other similarly affected patients are also trying to obtain new prescriptions, and possibly even be charged another copay, he said.

DEA published its final rule on August 22. APhA and most pharmacy groups strongly opposed the move.

APhA is working to inform members about the transition.