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An Introduction to Controlled Substances Act and Drug Schedules
Controlled substances include the drugs and chemicals whose manufacturing, dispensing and use is controlled by law due to their potential of dependency (both physical and mental) and abuse. The control applies to how the substance is made, stored, handled, and used. Controlled substances providing medicinal benefits, such as morphine can be obtained from a licensed pharmacy when the prescription is written by a medical professional qualified to prescribe controlled substance.
Allocating the schedules to drugs
Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 gives authority to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to monitor and control the use of these substances. CSA covers the classification, manufacturing, distribution, and sale of controlled substances. DEA evaluates the medicinal value and relative potential of abuse for each drug, including all new medications entering the market prior to approval they will assign each medication a schedule. CSA has put controlled substances into five Schedules to help the law enforcement and medical community to easily understand their nature, uses, and abuse potential. Each of these schedules is based on the medical value, risk of addiction, and ability of a substance to cause harm.
Examples of drugs and their schedules
Schedule I drugs such as marijuana and ecstasy have not been studied and are not FDA approved for use in the United States. Medications in schedule II to schedule V drugs have been proven to have a medicinal value. Examples of these drugs include Oxycodone (schedule II), Hydrocodone/acetaminophen (schedule III), soma (schedule IV) and Lyrica (schedule V). Schedule V includes the drugs with the least potential for addiction and use disorder. No refills are allowed for schedule II drugs while up to 5 refills are allowed for schedule III and schedule IV drugs which must be filled within a span of six months.
Controlling and decontrolling the drugs
CSA is a federal law, and state laws that conflict with CSA are not upheld by a federal court, as per the provisions of Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution that states that federal law will take supremacy over the state law if there is a conflict between the two. A vast majority of the states in the US have simply adopted the provisions of CSA.
Section 201 of CSA also provides a mechanism for the addition of substances or their transfer between schedule, and also about their removal from schedules or decontrol. Proceedings for the control and decontrol of substances can be initiated by DEA, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), or any interested party such as the manufacturer of the drugs, a pharmacy association, government agency, a medical association, a public interest group, or an individual citizen.
CSA continues to play an important role in the pharmacy practices by helping the medical professionals and lawmakers in assessing the benefits and dangers of various drugs and medications.
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Disclaimer: The information and content posted on this website is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended to be used as a replacement for medical advice. Always seek medical advice from a medical professional for diagnosis or treatment, including before embarking on and/or changing any prescription medication or for specific medical advice related to your medical history.