WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- A federal advisory panel has recommended tighter controls on Vicodin, the nation's most widely prescribed narcotic drug, officials say.
The proposed restrictions come amidst an epidemic of prescription drug deaths, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday.
An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration voted 19 to 10 Friday to reclassify hydrocodone as a Schedule II narcotic.
The compound is the essential ingredient in Vicodin. If the recommendation is accepted, the drug would be in the same category as OxyContin and fentanyl.
Schedule II is the most restrictive category. Vicodin is now Schedule III.
Americans consume 99 percent of the hydrocodone prescribed worldwide. The drug was introduced four decades ago. It is widely prescribed because of the perception that it is less dangerous than other narcotic drugs
Law enforcement agencies consider it highly addictive and widely abused.