A reader of this blog just forwarded an email to me. It said in part:
Today, 1/27, I went to Walgreens with a new prescription for pain medication and was told that they would not have any until Feb 17; they blamed it on the DEA.
I went across the street to Rite Aide and was informed that what Walgreens told me was true that the DEA was “messing with” the allocation amount of pain medication throughout the U.S. Rite Aide said they had a few left and would be able to fill my prescription with no assurances for the future distribution of pain medication.
This is messed up my friends. Both Walgreens and Rite Aide assured me that this situation of oversight by the DEA was causing considerable stress within their patients, especially the elderly.
I have decided that I need assistance to remedy this wrong as I intend to give it my fulltime lobby.
Please assist not only me but also a potential vast number of elderly patients who most probably are affected by this abuse of power. This abuse my just be the tip of the iceberg.
WHO IS THE DEA TO DECIDE THE PRESCRIPTION ALLOCATION TO LEGITIMATE AMERICAN PATEINTS? SILLY ME; I THOUGHT PRESCRIPTIONS WERE THE RESPONSIBILITY OF MEDICAL DOCTORS, NOT SOME GOVERNMENT THUG. THIS HAS TO STOP. I have been a long time pain medication patient, some 16 years and I was not aware of this until about a year or so ago. Several times I have been informed by Walgreens Pharmacy that I “would have to wait” as they stated they were out and did not know when they would be allotted anymore and they blamed it on the DEA.
A quick search of Google caught this article on the website for the National Pain Report, dated January 28, the day after the incident described above.
The headline shows the government is denying all responsibility: “DEA: Doctors and Pharmacies Responsible for Pain Med Denials.”
“We’re not doctors. We’re regulators and enforcers of the law. If something is prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, we’re certainly not going to get in the way,” said DEA spokesman Rusty Payne.
For well over a year, many pain patients have told National Pain Report that their doctor refused to write any more prescriptions for opioids or that their pharmacy refused to fill them. In many cases, the doctors and pharmacists cited new rules or regulations and blamed the DEA.
“There have been no new regulations. There have been no rule changes. There have been no changes in the Controlled Substances Act,” said Payne.
“People will call us and they’ll say, ‘I can’t get my meds. And the pharmacy tells me that it’s your fault.’ It’s always popular to blame the government for something. We’ve been blamed in the past for having a chilling effect by a lot of people in the pain management community.”
It is easy to believe that people might blame the government to keep a customer from being angry at them. But why would pharmacists and doctors not want to sell pain medication to a customer? What would cause so many of them to fail to deliver? They have every incentive to make their customers happy.
Also, a “chilling effect” does not require new regulations. If people are afraid of being punished they will act on that fear, even if there is no new regulation involved. The National Pain Report points to some recent examples.
Cardinal Health, one of the nation’s largest wholesalers, was fined $34 million in 2012 after it failed to report suspicious orders for hydrocodone at a distribution facility in Lakeland, Florida. Shipments of controlled substances from that facility were suspended for two years.
Walgreens and CVS Pharmacy have also been fined tens of millions of dollars by the DEA for violating rules and regulations for dispensing controlled substances.
Soon after the fines were levied, Walgreens developed a “secret checklist” to screen patients with narcotic prescriptions, and told its pharmacists not to fill them or to call the doctor if anything appeared suspicious.
So if retailers and retail suppliers are constantly worried about how the DEA might harass and fine them, then of course they are going to be careful. The DEA can claim they had nothing to do with it, but that claim is disingenuous. There needs to be more investigation.