Efforts to impose stricter controls on prescription drugs that are subject to rampant abuse have apparently failed after a groundswell of lobbying by pharmacists and drugstores, reports the New York Times. The proposed controls, sought by senators and law enforcement officials, would apply to products like hydrocodone that are used for the treatment of moderate to severe pain. Abuse of prescription medications has risen sharply in the last decade, with hydrocodone products among those most often misused.
The Senate approved the new restrictions last month. The House version of the legislation does not address the issue. House and Senate negotiators announced Monday night that they had reached a bipartisan agreement on the overall bill, and said they hoped Congress would approve it by the end of the month. Sen. Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat who led the push for new controls, said it appeared that his proposal was falling victim to the financial interests of drugstores and related businesses. Pharmacists and drugstores raised two major objections. The new restrictions, they said, would make it more difficult for some people in pain to obtain treatment, and pharmacies would be saddled with costly administrative burdens.