From these findings it can be inferred that DEA rescheduling has negatively impacted chronic pain patients, however the authors note the survey had been conducted online through patient advocacy websites which may have resulted in bias.

The DEA had proposed rescheduling last year based on study analysis showing high abuse potential with HCPs, which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence. An increasing trend in emergency department visits, addiction treatment center admissions, and deaths were demonstrated to be the result of HCP abuse. Also, the total prescriptions of HCPs exceeded that of any other opioid analgesic, which further compounded the abuse potential and risk.  Several epidemiological surveys and a retrospective review of medical records of addiction treatment populations showed that HCPs were among the most abused opioids in prescription opioid-dependent patients in the country.

While this may be the first report to be issued regarding the impact of HCP rescheduling on chronic pain patients, more research will need to be conducted, particularly in male patients since this survey did not include many of them, to see whether the change has resulted in more harm than good.

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