State attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an open letter to doctors, pharmacists and other medical professionals Wednesday alerting them that the prescription pain killer hydrocodone is now a Schedule II controlled substance under New York State law.

Starting this week, automatic refills of hydrocodone will no longer exist. Patients must now have a follow up visit to their doctor each time their 30 day prescription is renewed.

Statewide prescriptions for hydrocodone increased from 3.8 million to 4.5 million from 2007 to 2009, an increase of 18.4 percent, while oxycodone prescriptions have increased by 82 percent.

From 2008 to 2010, hydrocodone was the most commonly prescribed drug in Onondaga County, followed by oxycodone, then Xanax.