Ultram (Tramadol) Now a Controlled Substance in Ohio

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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Ultram (tramadol) is an opioid prescribed for moderate to severe pain in adults. It is different from some other medications that work the same way in that it is not currently considered a controlled substance (a DEA scheduled drug) in some states. However, regulations in Ohio are changing this fall.

What is changing for tramadol in Ohio?
Tramadol and any medications containing tramadol are moving from being non-scheduled (non-controlled) to schedule IV narcotics.

Which medications will be affected?
Ultram (tramadol), Ultram ER (tramadol ER) and Conzip (extended release tramadol capsules) will make the change, as well as Ultracet (tramadol/acetaminophen).

Why is the change taking place?
Tramadol is being changed to a controlled substance due to a stronger than previously believed narcotic effect and the potential for abuse and dependence.

When will the change take effect?

As of September 1, 2014, all medications containing tramadol will be considered schedule IV narcotics in Ohio.

Will this change affect how the doctor writes my prescription?

Yes. Any prescription containing tramadol will only be allowed to have 5 refills (or 6 fills total), and the prescription will be good for only 6 months from the date when it is written by your doctor.

Are there any other states that consider tramadol a schedule IV controlled substance?

Yes. Tramadol and products containing tramadol are also considered schedule IV narcotic in:

What exactly 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.

Narcotics can be broken down into 5 categories depending on their potential for abuse and addiction, which run from Schedule I through V. Schedule I medications have no accepted medical use (i.e. street drugs), while Schedule V medications have low abuse potential and limited quantities of narcotics (i.e. cough syrups). Other medication are classified in schedules II through IV based on their potential for abuse and addiction if taken incorrectly.

Check out more information on the various drug schedules here.

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