Reminder: Tramadol Is Now a Controlled Substance

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Remember—effective Monday, August 18, 2014, tramadol (Ultram) and any products that contain tramadol, including Ultracet (tramadol/acetaminophen), Ultram ER (tramadol ER), or Conzip, will be considered schedule IV substances.

This means ANY medications containing tramadol will now have stricter rules for dispensing. This may affect your current prescription as well as your future prescriptions if you regularly take these medications.

What is a schedule IV narcotic?

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.

You can find more information on the various drug schedules here.

Was tramadol scheduled before?

Yes and no. Tramadol has been considered a controlled substance in several states, but not all. This change means tramadol will be a schedule IV prescription nation-wide.

How will I know if my prescription is affected?

If your current prescription was written with more than 5 refills—you will be affected. Tramadol prescriptions will now be allowed only 5 refills, for a total of 6 fills.

If your current prescription was written more than 6 months ago—you will be affected. Tramadol prescriptions are only good to be filled at your pharmacy for 6 months after the date they are written by your doctor.

Once 6 months has passed from the written date, whether you’ve filled your prescription and any refills or not, it is considered expired. Once it is expired, a new prescription will need to be issued by your doctor.

What are other examples of schedule IV prescriptions?

These other medications are also considered schedule IV and have the same rules applied to them:

Xanax (alprazolam)
Soma (carisoprodol)
Klonopin (clonazepam)
Valium (diazepam)
Ativan (lorazepam)
Ambien (zolpidem)

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