New regs for Wednesday: DEA to remove painkiller from drug schedule

Wednesday's edition of the Federal Register will contain 170 new regulatory actions, ranging from tweaks to mortgage rules and protections for African lions to plans for this year’s National Christmas Tree Lighting.

Here are the highlights:

Drug policy: The Obama administration is proposing to take the opiate-based painkiller naloxegol from the federal drug schedule, citing research finding the medication “does not possess abuse or dependence potential.”

The drug is currently listed as a Schedule II drug under the Controlled Substances Act because it can be derived from opium alkaloids. Powerful illegal narcotics, including heroin and methamphetamine, as well as commonly abused medications Adderall and Ritalin, are also considered Schedule II drugs.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) added hydrocodone-combination painkillers to the schedule in August, as part of an effort to stem a rise in the abuse of drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin.

Drugs on the drug schedule carry criminal penalties for anyone caught illegally dealing or possessing them, as well as a host of restrictions related to the way they are administered by doctors.

Naloxegol’s manufacturer submitted a petition seeking its removal from the list on grounds that the drug, prescribed for non-cancer chronic pain, is not prone to abuse.

Based on evidence supplied by the drug's maker, a recommendation by the Department of Health and Human Services, and the DEA’s own analysis, the agency is now proposing to delist the drug.

“[T]he DEA finds that these facts and all relevant data demonstrate that naloxegol does not possess abuse or dependence potential,” the agency said. “Accordingly, the DEA finds that naloxegol does not meet the requirements for inclusion in any schedule, and should be removed from control under the CSA.”

Mortgage rules: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is moving to tweak regulations governing the disclosures that consumers receive in connection with applying for and closing on a mortgage loan.

The regulations, last updated in November in accordance with the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, are meant to ensure home buyers understand the terms of their loans.

Under current regulations, creditors are required to redisclose charges related to interest rates on the day they are locked into place. Under the proposed tweak, creditors would have an extra day to make the disclosure without facing government penalties.

The agency is also proposing assorted additional changes involving new construction loans and other technical features of the regulations.

Wildlife protection: The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the African lion as a threatened species, citing a dramatic and longstanding decrease in the animal’s numbers.

“The best available scientific and commercial information leads us to conclude that the African lion is in danger of extinction within the foreseeable future throughout all of its range,” the agency wrote. “Accordingly, we find that listing is warranted and we propose to list it as a threatened species throughout its range, wherever found.”

If finalized, the measure would make the species eligible for U.S. conservation programs under Endangered Species Act and restrict imports of the lions.

Holiday celebration: The National Park Service is seeking public comments related to plans for the 2014 National Christmas Tree Lighting.

The monthlong event will be the subject of a Nov. 6 meeting at the agency’s National Capital Region Office.

Spoiler alert: The planned theme for this year’s event is “the celebration of the holiday season with the display of the traditional American symbols of Christmas.”