The Food and Drug Administration is recommending new restrictions on prescription medicines containing hydrocodone, the highly addictive painkiller that has grown into the most widely prescribed drug in the U.S.
In a major policy shift, the agency said in an online statement that hydrocodone-containing drugs should be subject to the same restrictions as other narcotic drugs like oxycodone and morphine.
The move comes more than a decade after the Drug Enforcement Agency first asked the FDA to reclassify hydrocodone so that it would be subject to the same restrictions as other opioids drugs.
Hydrocodone has long been easier to prescribe, in part, because it is sold in combination pills and formulas with non-addictive ingredients like aspirin.
In 2011, U.S. doctors wrote more than 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone.