Everything You Need to Know About Schedule II Drugs

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After the Vietnam War in the 60s, using drugs for recreational purposes became a major hit for many Americans. President Lyndon Johnson and President Richard Nixon declared a War on Drugs in 1960 and 1970, respectively.

To take measures against narcotics and drug addiction, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) came into action as a part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. As a result, federal drug law policies related to controlled substances like drugs, narcotics, or other chemicals went through some major changes. Also, the old 200 separate federal drug laws were brought under one law.

What are Drug Schedules?

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have classified drugs into 5 groups based on their medical values and the risk of abuse. This classification was done in 1973 as per the regulations set by the CSA. But, the drugs with no risk for abuse or addiction were excluded from this classification.

Also, each category of the classification received medical terms like Schedule I, Schedule II, and so on. Besides, the drugs with high risk and zero benefits fall in Schedule I. Likewise, the drugs in Schedule II and Schedule III hold high potential for abuse. But, Schedule IV and Schedule V drugs hold lower potential for abuse.

Let’s find out more about Schedule II drugs and their availability.

What is a Schedule II drug?

Schedule II drugs can lead to serious physical and psychological dependence. But compared to Schedule I drugs, Schedule II drugs have some restricted medicinal uses. Doctors are now prescribing Schedule II drugs for various disorders in the US. Some Schedule II drugs help in treating chronic pain. Also, some drugs can even treat ADHD, anxiety, and other disorders.

But, no one can use these drugs for a long time since that might have adverse effects. That is the reason these drugs have much tighter regulations than other prescription drugs. For example, cocaine, which is a Schedule II drug, comes in a hydrochloride salt form. This can be used as an anesthetic. But, you will not get cocaine as a prescribed drug.

At times, some Schedule II drugs might even confuse the clinicians of their uses. For example, some fail to understand the difference between opioid use disorder and opioid dependence. This may result in prescribing the wrong drug.

Besides, these drugs have strict guidelines to follow while buying and using these drugs.

Schedule II Drug Lists

Find below some examples of Schedule II drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Methadone
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Opium
  • Fentanyl
  • Hydromorphone
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Dexedrine
  • Demerol

Rules on Getting Prescribed Schedule II Drugs

Due to the medicinal uses of Schedule II drugs, people can get a valid prescription to buy these drugs. However, there are tight regulations for obtaining these drugs.

  1. One has to present an original prescription to buy these drugs. These prescriptions have to hold the following details:
    • Signature of the prescriber
    • Full name of the patient
    • Date of issue of the prescription
    • Required quantity and Dosage
    • Name, address and the registration number of the prescriber
  2. In case of an emergency, a pharmacist can dispense a Schedule II drug after getting an oral authorization by a registered physician. Here are the criteria:
    • The amount of the drug has to be limited to the amount required to treat the patient.
    • The pharmacist has to prepare a written note of the oral prescription for the same without the signature of the prescriber.
    • The physician has to send a written prescription for the same within 7 days of dispensing the drug.
  3. Refills are not allowed in the case of Schedule II drugs. However, there came a new regulation on December 19, 2007. As per that rule, one physician can prescribe Schedule II controlled substances for a 90-day supply for a patient. For this, he or she needs to make use of up to 3 prescriptions.
  4. Some states have specific guidelines and limits on the amount of Schedule II drugs a physician can prescribe.
  5. The DEA came out with a new rule on June 1, 2010. As per that rule, physicians could issue e-prescription for Schedule II to Schedule V drugs from the above date. Since then, it has been legal to obtain Schedule II drugs in 50 states in the US. However, there are certain criteria for this to be accepted. These are:
    • The pharmacist has to be technologically advanced to dispense and archive the e-prescriptions.
    • The prescriber has to mention all the details just like the written prescriptions.
    • There has to be a 2-factor authentication sign off by the physician.

Only authorized physicians have the right to prescribe Schedule II controlled substances. But many fraudulent activities can happen due to various reasons. There were reports of stealing physician’s notepads and making false prescriptions.

Also, one can call up the pharmacist and pretend to be a physician. Besides, there may be incidents of modifying an old prescription. So, pharmacists need to be alert while dispensing any of those drugs. If they find anything suspicious, they should immediately call the physician.


Many believe that Drug Schedules have reduced the uses of narcotics and other abuses. It is because regulating these drugs resulted in limited access. Thus, it minimizes the potential of abuse. This has helped in cases of Schedule I and II drugs.