Have Pharmacies Gone Too Far? Florida Seeks an Answer

Have Pharmacies Gone Too Far? Florida Seeks an Answer

In May, the National Pain Report asked the question if pain patients are being denied legitimate prescriptions.

For the past several months, WESH-2 News in Orlando has been reporting on that very issue in Florida.

That reporting seems to have created some reaction.

On Tuesday, June 9, the Florida Board of Pharmacy is stepping up to see if it can do something about the number of prescription medication denials in Florida that WESH-2 says now number in the thousands.

“On a personal level, I feel horrible for them,” said Allison Dudley, executive director of the Florida Board of Pharmacy in Tallahassee. “I can’t imagine what some of the patients have to go through with 10 pharmacies a day trying to fill their prescriptions.”

The Board of Pharmacy makes the rules that pharmacists in Florida must follow. It’s that power that has many individuals feeling that the board could hold the answer to Florida’s prescription problems.

When Dudley and others saw the hundreds of patient testimonials outlined by WESH 2, they helped create the Controlled Substances Standards Committee.

Five members of the Board of Pharmacy will meet at the B Resort in Lake Buena Vista to hammer out a solution. They’ll be looking at changing or creating rules to ease the prescription problem.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will also welcome input from some of the people taking the blame for the problem, including pharmacy chains and drug wholesalers.

Elected officials and pharmacists in Florida, who have been feeling the heat of citizen dissatisfaction and media scrutiny on the issue, have blamed the DEA for the problem.

Neither the Food and Drug Administration nor the Drug Enforcement Administration takes responsibility for legitimate pain patients being denied prescriptions. The FDA says that any individual instances of pharmacists not filling prescriptions is an issue for state regulators. The DEA, which rescheduled hydrocodone last fall, says that pharmacists who refuse to fill real prescriptions are not doing their jobs.

The Government Accountability Office this year reported that the FDA and DEA – the two agencies that oversee drug products – should be working closer together on this issue.

When we were asking if the media is missing the point on pain medication in a story we ran in April, the National Pain Report quoted a couple of leading voices in chronic pain.

Dr. Richard Radnovich, a nationally known pain medicine specialist from Boise, Idaho said at the time, “The problem is that we have blurred the lines between 2 distinct problems: chronic pain treatment and substance abuse. The DEA is concerned with the latter. Medical providers just need to do a good job with the former: that is, show that they are using opioids for a legitimate medical purpose; and provide adequate medical care and supervision.”

Dr. Steve Passik, Vice President of Clinical Research and Advocacy at Millennium Health said, “Prescription drug abuse is a massive problem and we have to deal with it, but I’d also to see more consideration given to the person in pain in the dialogue going forward.”

It’ll be interesting to see what happens in Florida and whether other states follow the lead of the Sunshine State.

Follow Us on Twitter:

@NatPainReport

@edcoghlan

Authored by: Ed Coghlan

There are 7 comments for this article
  1. Dee C. at 3:27 pm

    The last few months have been a total nightmare!! I suffer from a autoimmune disease which causes so much pain and so many problems. I’ve had over 20 surgeries because of it. I may get pain meds 3/4 times a year; which comes out to 90:365 or 120:365. At its highest, 120 pills in 365 days DOES NOT make me an abuser! The last time I needed to get pain meds filled, I drove to 5 different pharmacies, 63 miles total, just to find out that a pharmacy (the next town over) that said they didn’t have the meds, did in fact have them. I was in tears! Pharmacists lie to you, make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, and even flat out deny you. The next time I need pain meds and given the run around, the next stop will be at an Attorney’s office. This nonsense is causing me stress and giving me panic attacks. I cannot play their game any more.

  2. Steve M at 8:22 pm

    I’m glad the issue is getting attention because I don’t live in Florida, but my attitude has changing from a need for balance to full legislation with 100% free substance abuse treatment & public education about risks and if a handful of addicts die, oh well they did it to themselves and they’re killing real intractable pain patients by lieing to their doctors.

    Addicts seem to get the drug regardless of legality, but IP patients can’t. Legal access could actually reduce overdose because you’d know the exact dose. Price would drop, so less crime. Also, with the lower price and unlimited availability would virtually eliminate needle use, but those who would inject would eliminate most problems because of IV grade products. Addicts wouldn’t pose as Pain patients. No Pain patient would have to suffer without their medication because doctors wouldn’t risk jail for generous prescriptions (you’d likely still need an Rx for insurance or Medicare coverage) and pharmacies wouldn’t be rationing medications.

    No pain patient will ever be safe and secure unless we abolish opioids and cannabinoids from the CSA (controlled substances act). True security means never having to wonder if you’ll have access to needed medications.

    Thankfully, it seems that some reform of the current system might be possible and fewer people will have to suffer.

  3. Steve M at 8:16 pm

    I’m glad the issue is getting attention because I don’t live in Florida, but my attitude has changing from a need for balance to full legislation with 100% free substance abuse treatment & public education about risks and if a handful of addicts die, oh well they did it to themselves and they’re killing real intractable pain patients by lieing to their doctors.

    Addicts seem to get the drug regardless of legality, but IP patients can’t. Legal access could actually reduce overdose because you’d know the exact dose. Price would drop, so less crime. Also, with the lower price and unlimited availability would virtually eliminate needle use, but those who would inject would eliminate most problems because of IV grade products. Addicts wouldn’t pose as Pain patients. No Pain patient would have to suffer without their medication because doctors wouldn’t risk jail for generous prescriptions (you’d likely still need an Rx for insurance or Medicare coverage) and pharmacies wouldn’t be rationing medications.

  4. Darisse Smith at 10:41 am

    Can I get an “Amen?” After years of pain patients struggling to get legitimate prescriptions filled, officials are starting to recognize this issue. I also think our approach to substance abuse is misguided. Too many doctors and pharmacists are not knowledgeable enough about absolutely free substance abuse treatment plans that are available 24 hours a day. Nearly every hour of each day all around the country, there are 12 Step meetings going on to help those suffering from addiction. As we have seen with just restricting the pharmaceuticals, without proper effective treatment substance abusers will continue on a viscous cycle. Every pharmacist and doctor involved with prescriptions of opiates should have a list of available meetings in their area. Instead of assuming everyone is an addict, there should be a more purposeful attempt at educating about the differences and then available treatments for those who might have a legit problem. In most major cities, there is a 12 step meeting each hour of the day, completely free.

  5. Kimberly Cornilsen at 5:44 am

    I think the most important statement in this article is-

    The line between chronic pain and drug abuse being blurred.

  6. Scott Mitchell at 10:58 am

    I am a 57 year old man who worked hard my whole life.I had a life changing accident in 2006,NINETEEN operations later i am stuck with CRPS,PIRIFORMIS SYNDROME and suffer from unrelenting pain 24/7.Why can’t i get my medications from my local pharmacy?I am forced to ship my prescriptions to KANSAS,then they are filled from CA.HOW insane is that? i feel lucky that i can even get them.That is so wrong on so many different levels.Why should i live in fear that at any given month i will be cut off? I have been disabled since 2008.Do you actually think i want to take these medications?Why do pharmacists treat me like a drug addict? I have had the same PM Doc for 6 years now.A very well respected PM Doc,who knows how much i suffer.I would ALMOST rather be taken out to the wood shed and be put me out of my misery.I now live in a country that treats it’s dogs better then the disabled and suffering.YES the pill mills needed to be shut down.But because of drug addicts and some greedy sob s,i should suffer? Tired and frustrated with the police state tactics of the DEA who has pharmacies,pharmacists and Doctors running for cover.STOP THIS NOW,Scott Mitchell

  7. BL at 9:08 am

    This is something we all should follow. The media has more power than many realize. I hope National Pain Report will also keep us up to date on it.