DEA: Doctors and Pharmacies Responsible for Pain Med Denials

DEA: Doctors and Pharmacies Responsible for Pain Med Denials

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is not trying to limit or ration access to opioid painkillers, according to a DEA spokesman who says “nothing should stand in the way” of a patient getting a legitimate prescription for pain medication filled.

“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.

imagesFor 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.”

That “chilling effect” stems from recent enforcement actions taken by the DEA against doctors, drug store chains and wholesale drug distributors.

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.

“If a pharmacy chooses not to fill a prescription for someone, that’s their decision. It’s not the DEA’s decision,” says Payne.

A survey of over 1,000 pharmacists conducted last month by the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) found that most had experienced delays of at least one week in obtaining shipments of painkillers and other controlled substances.

“Community pharmacists repeatedly cited having their supplies or shipments of controlled substances abruptly shut off by their wholesalers, which may have done so due to perceived pressure, intimidation or a lack of clear guidance from law enforcement officials, such as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA),” said B. Douglas Hoey, CEO of NCPA, which represents over 23,000 independent pharmacies across the United States.

Both the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pain Management have been inundated with complaints from patients and doctors – not only about Walgreens – but about other pharmacies also making it harder for opioid prescriptions to be filled.

The Academy even created an online complaint form for doctors and patients who are having trouble getting prescriptions filled at Walgreens.

“Folks tend to overcorrect the other way to the point where it becomes a chilling effect and no one wants to do anything because they’re afraid we’ll be hiding out in the bushes,” said the DEA’s Payne.

Under the Controlled Substances Act, wholesalers are required to report to the DEA every quarter the amount of narcotics that they shipped or sold. That’s how suspicious activity is often detected.

“We do look at distributors and what they’re selling. And typically what we look for are patterns, like abrupt changes. So if we see that a distributor sells “X” amount that’s pretty steady and then all of sudden there’s a significant spike, we might want to ask questions why,” Payne told National Pain Report.

“We look for patterns. We take action on egregious violations. And CVS and Walgreens would be good examples of that,” said Payne, referring to the enforcement actions taken against the drug store chains.

And what about pain patients who get caught in the middle and can’t get their prescriptions filled?

“When it comes to opioid based painkillers, if a doctor prescribes you something like a Schedule III (drug) that is an opioid based narcotic, and it’s for a legitimate medical purpose, you shouldn’t have anything stand in your way,” said Payne.

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

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Phil murphy

We need to name the companies but our class action should be against the DEA. They are to blame! Without them perscriptions would be filled per doctors orders! We pay thousands of dollars to do things right and they care about the 2% of those who cheat not the 98% in need doing things right. Everyone knows street people and the heroin od’s are going up because of the DEA. So is street sales. Not because of cheating but because of the DEA. They are washing their hands of it but they are bull$&&&)($&ing all! It is the DEA! They are to blame.

Freedom from Oppression

Everyone, change to mail order prescription. It’s safer and screw Walgreens and CVS. Let them go out of the pharmacy business. They suck at it. Also, we need to get rid of the DEA all together. Seriously, they are a cartel. How much will walgreens/cvs lose before they figure it out? It’s easy. Just grease some political palms and end the DEA reign already! I can’t stand this oppressive protestant viewpoint of drugs in the first place. It’s dehumanizing the pain patients. Stop killing innocent people with this drug war please. I want my wife to live pain free and have some quality of life while she can! Damn it! It’s not easy watching the person you love suffer every day, every hour, every minute, and every second of every day for this.


Florida, the first step to change is by voting Pam Bondi and Rick Scott out of office this November 2014. Be sure to vote.


It’s funny how certain posts make it through publishing and others don’t. I’ve been in the industry for many years and like everyone one else said. The stories are all the same from patients, doctors and pharmacists. The DEA goes into their offices threatening them and scaring the hell out of professionals that don’t know their rights. If they try to stand up for their rights, the DEA finds some jerkoff medical expert who is on their payroll with no real expert experience in the medicine management field to disagree with the treatment program. Lets not forget this expert is a medical expert that specializes in interventional treatment and only bills insurance with no real expertise in the treatment with medicine. We’ll, after their fake expert disagrees with treatment. The DEA then charges the doctor, pharmacist, patient and owner with drug trafficking, money laundering, and RICO. They always use RICO so they can seize all your assets regardless if it was obtained from the current job. This allows them to really BULLY you since you have no money for real representation. Now you are looking at life in prison, no assets, lost all your years of hard work, and good reputation since it’s all televised. Let’s not forget if you are a doctor or pharmacist, you will not qualify for a public defender nor will you be able to practice until the case is resolved. The DEA and local law enforcement use your assets as their own personal piggy bank since it accounts for 85% of their unregulated annual budget. It’s easier to turn an innocent professional into a drug dealer than actually go out and do the job their organization was created for. The DEA was created to combat cartels and protect the citizens and their rights. Now they turn a blind eye to the cartel, take their pay off and destroy the medical industry. The DEA is suppose to work for us. In the pharmacy manual it’s states they are there for help and guidance in being a license compliance facility. No where in the manual does it say they are there to bully, scare and ruin your life if their is a compliance issue. The DEA has proven over and over again they are useless. We need to dismantle the DEA!!

Mike Fogarty

Charles, you are so right. Since my meds were reduced I live a shrunken, truncated life. Memory is fading, can’t think about much but pain. It fills awareness. On the rare occasions I can take an extra pill I can start to function again, have ideas. I try to get as much done as I can but it soon fades and everything is pain again. This is a subhuman existence and it is forced on us by people who say it is for our own good. We must somehow organize so we can bring our weight to bear. I was guilty of complacency when things were going well for me. I didn’t want to rock the boat. I realize now that when anyone’s rights are violated everyone’s rights are violated. We have a right to ease our pain. We shouldn’t have to beg anyone for relief.

Charles Johnston

I have also ran into the pharmacies and doctors denying, arbitrarily, to refill my prescriptions for opiates, from the same Dr. at the same pharmacy, numerous times over many years. Insurance gave their ok, Dr. gave his ok, pharmacy denied, or it was Dr. wrote fill now on prescription, pharmacy agreed and insurance denied, or some other variation of the above. Chronic pain left untreated leads to all kinds of neurological changes, and to put it simply, eventually renders one stupid. Look up chronic pain and brain plasticity on google scholar. This is not new news. I am very interested in forming an advocacy group for those having similar problems. Let’s organize, before they have us all on subutex or something worse.. Having done research in this area since 1988, I know of nothing more inhumane then putting patients suffering treatable pain on a endorphin or analgesic antagonist. It’s medieval. It also reminds me of the troubles and misery people suffered when AIDS, HIV, first was discovered. The President on down blocked and/or prevented research and treatment as well documented in the scholarly literature. Alone we suffer, but together we can advocate for humane treatment of folks with chronic or unbearable pain .

DEAfu knows it. I kow it. Illegal street users know it. Legal patients know it. Doctors know it. Pharmacists know it. So why doesn’t the DEA get it? They are beating a dead horse in a futile attempt to keep their jobs. Soon, fear won’t work anymore. Soon, education will become the norm and we will realize, we never needed the DEA. They were born from fear-based media saturation and will die from just plain knowledge. The legalization of pot in Colorado is bigger than anyone imagined. It shows that the fear mongering prohibition agencies aren’t needed. Adults can be adult. Kids will be kids.


Let me tell you the REAL TRUTH about why people can’t get their RX’s filled specifically Oxycodone 30mg, I am a native Floridian 50+ years an a level 4 pain patient (level 5 is hospitalized), I have seen and been involved in legal and illegal drugs all my adult life.

The DEA can’t make pot and coke busts because the severe recession the US is in (3 out of 5 families in FL on food stamps) 2013, I know several pharmacists from growing up and they have told me “these DEA dickheads” come in our legally operating pharmacies and tell us we will close you down if you don’t do this and that” without any state or federal order or directive, they tell up to NOT to fill any Oxycodone.

It’s all about money if you don’t believe me just google search terms “DEA” “CVS” “Walgreens” “law suit”.

FDLE Joseph Graves, I know 3 agents that work there and they told me everybody was stoned everyday at work.

We will always get high DEA and get meds so FU !

Jeanne Hyatt

…“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.”
..“If a pharmacy chooses not to fill a prescription for someone, that’s their decision. It’s not the DEA’s decision,” says Payne.

Mr. Payne [how appropriately named] is not only a liar but his statements are explicitly and directly harmful to the American public. As I read these comments from legitimate chronic pain patients like myself, I am reminded that each one of them represents thousands of people out there who have been turned away by a pharmacist. There are thousands and thousands who have had to go through this and it just seems to be spreading. People going to their local pharmacy where they had gone to for years and submitted prescriptions they’ve been taking for years to that same pharmacy, being told they don’t have it, don’t know when they will have it and they are left only to wonder why “they” have been chosen to be the ones who have to suffer? Good God! It’s hard enough living in pain every day without having to deal with hearing those words every chronic pain sufferer dreads, “I’m sorry, I don’t have your medicine in stock and I don’t know I can get it in.” So, according to Payne, all of these pharmacists are just sadists who like to see people suffer and every pain patient turned away is a criminal who thoughtlessly complains a lot about the government. What utter hogwash! I may be raddled with pain but I’m not stupid. It IS the DEA!

No Chillling Effect?

Dennis Pattyn

The stress the D.E.A. Is causing me should make them subject to a bodily harm lawsuit. Complete b.s. That they are not standing between a patient and their doctor.
I have been practically thrown out of pharmacies trying to fill a legitimate script and my doctor refuses to treat me for pain anymore.
I spent many hours finding a new doctor and ended up going to the pain clinic of my local hospital. I am now treated as a criminal having to take urine tests, see a psychiatrist and told my medical marihuana card is now of no use. The meds have tripled in price and I have to pay for an office visit every month. Please help.


In a 2010 study of 3000 practitioners, 29% of PCPs and 16% of pain physicians reported prescribing opioids less often than they deem appropriate because of regulatory oversight concerns.

(Brenda Breuer, Ricardo Cruciani, Russell K Portenoy, Pain management by primary care physicians, pain physicians, chiropractors, and acupuncturists: a national survey, 2010, found at:


Dennis, I came across that petition too. And gladly signed it. That was started somewhere in 2012 I think, according the many stories and the dates of the posts. I urge everyone to sign it. Although I am losing hope in all humanity. A few hours ago my back pain got excruciating and the pins and needles in my foot, started to scare the shit out of me. I’ve got the knives going down my leg, but around my ankle it feels like a rope is being tied around it. Im having difficulty walking. Ive been sticking my fingernails into my foot but cannot feel it. ITs like my foot fell asleep and its killin me. My knee is also throbbing. My lower spine is in so much dam pain I just want to yank it out. I am sooo done, God, if you’re up there and are listening, I beg you to please please answer our prayers and allow us to have somewhat of a life back. Please help to get our voices head. I can’t do this anymore. Please end this nightmare or take me.

Suffering patient

This has got to be the most comments the NPR has ever gotten as of yet on ANY article.
I have agree that something needs to be corrected for all legitimate chronic pain patients very soon!
This reported article needs to find it’s way to Washington DC. To Congress!!
I live in FL and not ONE thing is getting better here.
I have wonder just how long I can hang on anymore myself? I don’t want to live like this, rather be dead. The stress and pain is too much to bare.
My dose has been cut extremely too short for so long now and I honestly can’t function anymore.
The FDA , The NIH, Hell somebody needs to do something!! More studies need done on how pain patients who have been on long term pain meds have a set tolerance that decreases their pain. After being on a set dose for so long, the body gets used to that set dose and it responds very well on it without needing any increases. But now days with the huge cuts? Bodies, including mine, do not function well at all. I have High Blood Pressure too and on these lower doses, especially between dosing? BP goes bananas! I start to feel horrible and the pain goes nuts and it takes SO long to get it back under control again.
How damn long are we going to have to live like this?
This is NOT quality. This isn’t even surviving really. Plus? nearly every month, I have to wait at least 3 to 5 days past the 30 th day to get filled. I am not an addict and never have been and I’m sick of being treated like one. Please?? Can’t somebody tell the government about this? We can’t even live where we want to. The DEA and all agencies involved are controlling our lives on where we can go, on vacations, or anywhere. This all needs STOP!!! How many more years are we going to allow this happen? Life is really horrible.

Pam, I personally interviewed hundreds of patients, in the hospital, in ain clinics and on the street, (mostly vterans,) over 10 years ago, and the stories are eerily and tragically the same. Hundreds! We used to say “there are 30 million of us…” then 50 million, now, even the NIH uses 100 million! This is in 10 years. I just signed a petition, the first organized approach I’ve seen in Colorado. Here’s the link BTW:

We must keep fighting our way through this mess and, at all costs try to retain our fighting spirit. They are hoping we just go away, into a corner, huddled in pain.
I will NEVER go away! My kids have offered to keep the fight going after I die! ( someday they could be pain patients.)

So keep your chin up, no matter how many times they punch it, and keep your hopes and spirit up, if at all possible, ( I know for many of us, it may not be possible,) and someday, probably not in our lifetime, we will win this “Revolution!”


Mike, You are so right in all you have said. I have no faith in those running ths country anymore. DEA blames doctors and pharmacies for this nightmare, doctors blame DEA. I find it very hard to believe that its our doctors faults, When there are thousands of us going thru the same thing, I know dam well its the DEA breathing down the necks of our medical professionals. I spoke to my pain dr yesterday and he told me if he gave me what I needed, he would be flagged and investigated, What kind of country do we live in anymore? Who is standing up for us anymore? Seems like noone is. The doctors are to afraid of losing their license if they even look at the DEA the wrong way, I’ve read nothing but horror stories from pain sufferers this past week. I really had no idea just how bad it is. My doctor said the way things are going, there is going to be a revolution. All I know is, I am sitting here crying and feel like I have been beaten by a bat due to the many injections he gave me in my neck and back yesterday, Of which, they do not work. Why in hell do I have to be a pin cushion every month and feel like I am being tortured medically when all I need is to have my meds back to the way they were. I am disappointing my kids anymore. I was supose to go to my daughters everyday to watch her puppy, she lives a half hour away, and for the past week I havent been abke to get there. I don’t know how much longer I can live like this. I’d rather be dead then live the life I am living. I wasn’t even given the option to be weened off the amount of meds I was taking. BAM cut me back drastically just like that. So not only has my pain increased to the point I cannot do the simple things I once did, but I am sure my body is going thru withdrawal. I am so outraged. The DEA is going to have an even bigger problem with the epidemic they can’t seem to control as they are forcing those legit patients to seek treatment any way they can, whether it be finding their meds on the street or turning to heroin. I go thru drug tests and pill counts all the time. Treated like some dam junkie. DEA blaming doctors?? Thats the biggest crock of shit Ive ever heard, I could see them getting away with that statement if it were just a handful of patients going thru it, but thousands upon thousands across this pathetic country are being affected and noone is listening and changing the unconstitutional acts being put on all of us who are suffering, It needs to stop NOW. I don’t know how much longer I can do this and the… Read more »

Mike Fogarty

Pam, you are so right. A Chinese peasant two hundred years ago had better access to pain control than an American in the twenty first century. He at least could smoke a pipe of opium and go out to work and feed his family. The Pain clinic I go to was founded on the principles of high dosage opioid therapy and many of us remain committed to those principles because they have been validated in our own lives. The founding doctor had to retire and his replacement is afraid of the regulatory climate. He has reduced many of us to less than half the medication we used to take. After seven years of a more or less normal life I have been reduced to being a cripple again. We hear a lot about the one or two patients at a clinic who have problems or overdose but never a word about the eight hundred or so who are now able to quietly get up and go to work each day.


I don’t know where to begin, I to am a chronic pain sufferer, for 10 years now, I had two failed back surgeries, deg. disc disease, severe spinal stenosis, nerve damage, arthritis in my spine, several herniated discs, which I refuse to be opened up again. For a long time I was on oxycontin for the long term and oxycodone 30mg every four hours for break thru, I had much relief and my pain went from over a ten down to a 3, to where I could function again and enjoy my life. As all of us pain sufferers know, we now have been forced into a life of unneccessry pain and suffering, My meds were cut back drasticaly to only three times a day. My pain dr is a compassionate person and tells me he believes me but can not write the oxycodone for more then three a day, Really??? are u f*** kidding me?? He referred me to another pain dr who does more intense pricedures, He told me he can’t hit the nerves as the scar tissue needs to be removed. I went to this other pain dr with some high hopes that maybe she will help me, this was last week. This a-hole dr had her opinion of me before entering the room, as she seen the meds I am on. She judged me as some junkie looking for more, She neglected to go over my MRI’s, neglected to address the herniated discs, the scar tissue, nerve damage and everything else, BUT she made sure to tell me she can’t help me, to go to detox and to see a psychiatrist, that pain is often in our minds. Needless to say, I left there in tears begging Got to please take me, I can’t live like this anymore, I am a single mom,48 and on perm. disability, My life has been turned upside down and I am no longer any good to my kids. They are watching their mom slowly dieing and giving up the fight. This is absurd that all of us legit pain patients are being mistreated and labeled as junkies. I have never felt so defeated in my life, My pain Dr told me it is the DEA’s fault and if he were to write the script for what I really need, every four hours, he would be flaggedby the DEA. This is a violation of my rights. I do not understand how the government is allowed to get away with treatng those of us this way, It’s unconstitutional. I am sick of it. The past few days I have been scanning the internet and came across thousand of stories from pain patients across this country, I did come across a petition to congress as well,of which I am pasting the link here. I also emailed two law firms in my area to see if they have the balls to go after the DEA. Funny, the DEA passes blame on the pharmacies and… Read more »

It’s true, Laura. If these “healers” saw the rate of suicides due to not getting pain relief medicine, it would shake them to their foundations! Well, It SHOULD shake them, but it won’t. I don’t know why. They seem to care more about the numbers of people who lie, cheat and steal drugs and who overdose after self medicating. It makes absolutely no sense, unless this whole thing is being controlled by someone not in the healing business, but in a shaky business. That points directly to the DEA and insurance companies, doesn’t it. All the doctors I spoke with and all the pharmacists say the same thing. “It’s not us. We want you to have your meds.” I’ve heard of insurance people refusing to grant meds requests also. And if you think about it, it all relates to money, their bottom line. The DEA has to validate their jobs. The war on drugs didn’t work and we all know they blew billions and billions of dollars, hiring agents, putting the wrong people in jail, never getting to the cartels. They invented this whole pharmaceutical drug mess, used the media to blame legit patients and make us into “druggies”, put legal pressure on the whole industry…all to make it look like they’re doing something. The insurance companies are no different. They make huge profits every year yet deny the individual patients legitimate meds finding obscure reasons to justify it. To avoid calling me “long term disabled” they used a falsified document to completely drop my case forcing me to become homeless and having to give up my kids. For what?…MONEY. And they are also on shaky ground due to Obamacare. Someday when Obamacare is done right, it will put a lot of pressure on the insurance companies to compete. All the changes to the bill by Congress was strictly due to insurance lobbies scared to death of going out of business. Socialized medicine. They are causing it to happen, they know their time is almost up and they’re scurrying to make all the money they can before they’re not needed anymore. All of this has NOTHING to do with helping and healing.. They hide behind “protecting us from ourselves.” They use prohibition tactics that didn’t work with alcohol. Yet our suicide numbers keep rising and they could care less. So right now, we must care for ourselves and care for each other and try like hell to get someone’s attention. I wrote a book about making it through the “Pain Cycle” with one intention in mind: to stop people from suicide! So please, tell anyone you can, before committing that final step, know that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, a positive side to the Cycle, and a way out! Whether you believe me or not it should be enough for you to “keep trying,” ” don’t give up,”… all those positive bumper sticker sayings, because it’s true. There is another way to lessen pain, maybe just… Read more »


I have chronic pain due to a permanent injury. I have had nothing but trouble each month trying to get my “legit” prescription filled..every month I have to go to at least 8-10 different pharmacies trying to get it filled. I’m told we out of stock. Then I have to suffer even worse for days waiting for someone to get it in stock. I have also been turned away by pharmacies telling me they are not allowed to take on new “pain” patients. I’ve also like others I’ve read about have been made to feel like a junkie. If any of these people had to deal with an ounce of the pain we suffer with then maybe they would understand why it is imperative that we get our legit prescriptions filled and filled on time..I have a new respect for anyone who suffers with chronic pain.. I can now understand why people suffering with chronic pain get to the point of wanting to kill themselves..

Mike et al:
I understand reaching that point of no return. I was there myself in 2004, but I have to tell you, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. In 2005 and 2006 I found the answer to the Pain Cycle. I was told by my doctors that you enter it and get stuck in it, permanently. But that’s not true.

In 2005 I had learned how to walk again and went on a quest to map the Pain Cycle; in and out. It exists, and once out, the pain is still there but it’s power over my life is far, very far diminished. I am so glad I didn’t take that ending step. Since 2005 my disease has me chairbound, but my power over pain has given me 9 years so far of very productive, happy moments and I’ve watched my kids grow to adults.

I still have all of the same problems as I did 10 years ago, getting meds, non-validation, fighting insurance to do things, all of it. But I’m happier…and have accomplished more, in the last 10 years than any time in my life. In chronic pain we are surrounded by negativity and we must learn to stare it in the face and become positive despite it. It is not easy. Conquering Pain’s power took me 2 years of accepting my life changes and making it my lifestyle…but it was well worth it.

I wrote the manuscript and am awaiting to have it put online, as a series. It is a chapter by chapter manual of traversing the Cycle, how you got in and how to get out.

At any rate I can say, keep writing and expressing your pain. You do it well and it helps, I know. I pray for the light at the end of the tunnel to reach you, all of you. You don’t deserve what you’ve been through…or what you will still go through. I apologize for the whole medical system, they know not what they do.

Mike Fogarty

Thanks for your kind remarks Dennis. These statements by Payne are a cynical joke. My pharmacist at Walgreens who had been cheerfully dispensing my medications for over seven years broke down and cried and told me it was worth her job if she continued to do so. The small independent pharmacy I use told me if their medication order for Controlled substances goes over twenty percent the wholesale pharmacy supply company cuts them off, because they know they will be targeted by DEA. Two of my neighbors, whose house I have to drive by every day, could not take it anymore and killed themselves last year.

Thanks Mike. This is a really great piece of prose because it accurately describes the point most of us are at when we finally get opiates, and that is what good poetry does. It eloquently helps those of us who can’t write convey our feelings and our experience. Please listen. We didn’t ask to be in this position. We would rather be well, not sick. We don’t make it up or pretend or cheat. We have physical ailments visible to the camera but not to the naked eye. We have diseases that are rare or new to the medical world. We are the guinea pigs.
The other ending to this story is when we actually receive the opiates and are physically able to breathe a sigh of relief. We cry, sometimes inside, at the shear pleasure of much lessened pain, and we go back to work and feel productive again. Some of us have been on these meds long term. I myself have 10 years on narcotic versions. Because of this I worked an extra 6 years on my feet and now am still productive and semi functional even though I can hardly walk. I pray that I can go another 5 years so I can accomplish some goals but the feeling of being able to do the things I do is so immense, so gratifying, that I hate it when I can’t get my meds right away and have those 3 or 4 days without them to remind me of just how good it feels to have them, and I want to cry.
Everyone in the medical field, including us patients needs to see this poetry to know that it is in our control to make or break someone’s life, not to mention the lives of those close to them. As patients we can be there for others in our predicament.
For those working in the field, try to remember, people in chronic pain don’t understand what’s going on, we didn’t ask for this and most likely, it’s permanent. Help us to ease in to this new lifestyle. Be gentle and understanding of us. Do not let the small minority of bad experiences influence the much larger majority in a negative way. To you it’s a rule, a law, a war on drugs. To us, the large majority, it is our life. Thanks again Mike and hang in there. It is the stories, some beautifully written like yours, that will someday cause the change in how we are seen and how we are treated.

Mike Fogarty

Chronic Pain in Florida

The pain is getting worse.
I wonder if I am going to have to kill myself to make it stop, then I remember if I kill myself, the insurance won’t pay my wife anything. I have an appointment with my doctor today, maybe he can help.
I try to stay composed at the doctor, a man’s not supposed to cry, but when he suggested I take an extra Advil and come back next month, I cried. I don’t want to die but I can’t bear this anymore.
He made me pee in a cup and sign an agreement I would only get prescriptions from him, submit to random urine tests and only use one pharmacy. Then he wrote me a prescription for an opiate. I understand he’s afraid of getting in trouble, but I can’t bear this anymore.
At the pharmacy, they said they could not fill the prescription because I lived over 30 miles away. I understand they are afraid of getting in trouble, but I can’t bear this anymore.
I went to a pharmacy close to my house but they said they couldn’t fill it because my doctor was over 30 miles away. I understand they are afraid of getting in trouble, but I can’t bear this anymore.
I am going to have to make it look like an accident.

Trigeminal Nuralgia

I love how the DEA spokesman is Mr. ‘Payne’! 🙂

This makes me so mad! Not only have I personally had problems with the big chain pharmacies but because I have more than one chronic condition I’m looked at like some kind of junkie just because I’m in pain!


This is why I left the chain pharmacy and went to the independent one. Treated like a human again by a pharmacist that’s knows his clients.

Eileen Cowling

This is why I cannot get my Dr. to write my pain meds anymore…..nobody wants to claim responsibility for the red tape,,,,in the meantime, I am told to go see a pain specialist, of which I can’t afford…so with Lupus, Fibro, arthritis, etc., I am constantly in pain…..

There is the address for pharmacist response to this crazy statement by the DEA.

When you reach that bottom when nothing seems to help and you don’t know how you got here or what to do, this is usually when the warriors are called on to take up the sword because something is desperately wrong. I believe we are the warriors.

We trudge through and never give up because the next generation is coming and we need to make it better for them. For most of us, we may not see the end result. As in any war, the front line soldiers just “grab their weapon and go.” Sometimes it seems fruitless and like we’re not getting anywhere, but believe me, we are one giant step away from changing this stupid system. There’s literally millions of us!

I’ve been in it for 10 years now, and it may be slow, but it’s getting stronger and more organized than before. Pretty good for sick people! I know you don’t get much in the way of thanks or a pat on the back (except from fellow pain patients) but keep going. Do it for the next generation. Join a group, voice your opinion, sign petitions, march on the state capital, anything you can to be a part of this.

I already know that I have enough knowledge and education and experience in this stupidity that I can help anyone I meet who is about to enter the dark tunnel of pain treatment. I can warn them of what to expect. I can help them join a group. I can sympathize and empathize with them when things don’t go right or make sense.
Eventually our numbers will come together and when that happens…change will also happen. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I know it will, and that’s enough to keep me going. I just wish I could walk again, but since I can’t, I write. You too?

When I saw how large of a problem pain was in the US I was overwhelmed. My daughter said, “Dad, if you want to move a mountain you pick up a rock and move it and keep doing this, and hopefully others will pick up a rock. Eventually, the mountain will move!” You all are helping to move this enormous mountain and for that I can only say “Thank you,” you are all inspiring to me. Now go grab a rock!


To RPH the DEA has many pharmacist scared and they tell them don’t fill if doctor is not local. If the patient isn’t local. Hand full of private pharmacy won’t take insurance and asking for as much as eight dollar a pill. That’s ridiculous and not in it to help a patient that’s already going threw hell. Pharmacist need to stand up and ask for better regulations and all the same rules. You choose that profession to help people. We need your help and not be afraid to stand up to the DEA. I’m glad to hear everything was dropped I’m sure you crossed your I and dotted your ts. Please don’t give up because it’s what they want. They let these pain clinic open and didn’t do anything about it in till people started overdosing.They could of done something much sooner. But now legitimate patients are suffering. I have a script from Jan 21st and still have not been able to fill it nor will any pharmacist tell me what they have I can change it to. So I’m suffering in pain and upset. I don’t know what to do. If I didn’t have a son I think I would end it all.


This DEA guy is full of it. I am a pharmacist and was arrested for filling prescriptions that were questionable but appeared to be legit. The doc checked out and there were literally dozens of pharmacists filling the scripts. I had even asked the state regulators and state Board of Pharmacy how to handle the scripts before anything ever happened. I followed their advice. I checked the state database and made sure I didn’t fill for doctor shoppers. I verified medical necessity but still got arrested and had my name drug thru the mud. The case got thrown out but the damage was done. The state regulators and DEA are picking on pharmacists and wholesalers because we are easy targets. And, the unwritten rules change depending on which agent you are talking to. Due to the insane unwritten rules, we are lucky if we can get enough meds in stock for our regular patients, let alone a new one. Until the DEA and state regulators change, people will continue to go without their meds. There are so many administrative rules that it is impossible to follow them all. That’s probably what they dinged CVS and Walgreens on….some obscure rule. Guess what the fine is for a pharmacist not signing and dating a Schedule II prescription: $25,000 per prescription. Forget to sign one or two out of several thousand and they can put you out of business. My profession is no longer anything like it was when I entered it. Every pharmacist I know lives in fear.


Mr. Kinch- you are living proof of the great good that one person can do for others and the larger society. Your story and efforts are inspirational and cannot be substituted with legislation or new and improved opioids.
While the organized sector will continue to exercise a dominium over the rights of others in society they cannot inspire, or set an example for individuals to aspire to.
From my experience and viewpoint I don’t believe the organized sector has or can get it right when it comes to pain care- it is up to individuals to jump over the shadows in pain care to create the symbols of a new day. And you have inspired e to continue my efforts and hopefully this year i will complete the three books that i am working on that will attempt to jump over some shadows in pain care and give some in pain new and better days.

@sandra weidner: It is true that in some cases the system works. I haven’t seen numbers yet so I can only go on my own experiences and those of others I come in contact with, which is near 100. Sandra, you are in the other 50% of those who haven’t had too much of a problem. The other 50% (roughly) have had a horrendous time of it. (Me included) The interesting thing here is that the pharmacies you mention and the VA and the fact that have been doing the same routine for years, are also shared by the 50%! Hmmm. So it seems to be a case by case problem, not a particular pharmacy, or doctor, or whether you’re new to the system or a long term veteran. It seems the rules are being made up and certain wholesalers and pharmacies and even doctors and patients are being singled out. This stinks of a federal crime unit, so my guess is…it’s the DEA! The bad thing about this whole debacle is that opioid users along with other narcotics, should never be abruptly stopped. It is very dangerous and everyone knows this! It’s funny how they don’t want us overdosing or misusing these meds but seem perfectly fine to let us just stop these meds and let us go days without them! @dave – Ideally, you are perfectly correct and if we could get the numbers, like a couple of million pain patients under one credo, we wouldn’t have the need to get funding from outside sources. Unfortunately, the 2 largest financiers of pain foundations will always be pharmaceutical companies and doctor boards of directors. This is why this forum is so cool. You don’t have to worry too much about who you’re upsetting with candid and starkly truthful remarks…like…Organizing! @ Donna Ratliff. Before we go to any Congressmen or others in power we should first show solidarity under a certain credo and follow through when all our ducks are in a row. We should be a structured national group headed by some knowledgeable people with resumes that would turn heads. We should approach this methodically, with an agenda and a time frame. Like they do in Congress, and there’s a reason they do this, form a steering committee, structure a leadership board, start recruiting and draw up an agenda. Then once the ship is ready to sail make sure we know exactly how, when and where we are sailing too. I personally believe we should first get info on all the pain groups out there, see if they would want to combine forces towards this end and if they would share their enrollment. I believe this is why there have been so many emailing and letter campaigns that seem to go nowhere. It is fragmented, small groups targeting various congressmen across the country. It’s too easy for them to cast it aside. For instance, this rally in Fla. Is there enrollment info? Is there a leadership structure whom we… Read more »


If the states have a prescription drug monitoring system. Which every state in America is on one or in the process of it. Why do we not have a more accurate number of medications needed to cover patients. They have so much information in the tracking system of patients we should not have to suffer. They have your full name, address, age, social security number, Driver Licenses. Every physician you have obtain prescriptions from since monitoring started. To me this is a lot of information and still NOT be able to obtain medications. If you have records with your health reports I don’t understand why this couldn’t be a mark in computer. That you have tried other options and choose to control it and monitor it with a physician. End of pain and suffering for a lot of Americans. Prescriptions Reform!!!! I don’t understand if the pharmacy groups know there’s a problem then why are they not trying to help patients.


I am having a hard time grasping all this. I am a chronic pain patient. I was on mscontin for 3 years. Quit taking on my own, as I was having a lot of nausea, and vomiting from it. Normal side effect. I felt better after taking it. Now I occassionally will need a narcotic pain med for short term. I have used Walgreens’ for decades now. I filled out on line at their website, all my diagnosis along with my medications that I am on both prescribed and OTC. Many of my meds I get through the VA. I go to the same Drs for years, I have never had problems filling my pain meds, except once when the Lakeland facility was closed down and they were having problems getting enough of the meds. They even called other Walgreen pharmacies in the area to see if they had enough on hand to fill it. If they found one they would give them my name and the Dr name and give me my script back and tell where to go to get it filled. Once I had to go CVS to fill it, no problems there. I can understand if there are multiple Drs being seen or frequent changes of Drs this does set up a red flag. I do allow time for script to be filled as I know the pharmacist has a form they have to fill out for every narcotic med sold.
I live in Florida and have since 1994.


Ms. Ratliff- kudos for your efforts to effect change with state representatives- dont give up! I have gotten 26 legislators in NYS to sign on to legislation to improve pain care- it hasnt been easy for most legislators dont care to know much about pain care let alone try to improve pain care. And then there are those legislators who like the convenience of just doing what doctors want. Dont let them be so lazy. Confront them about having a dream- or suggest they may be to old to dream big-remind them of the costs and suffering- and yeah sometimes youll need to get there attention by posters and it took fortune cookies sent to Congressman Engel- my representative before he agreed to introduce legislation to improve pain care. Politicans are very lazy and quick with the excuses- but if you can get one to sign on legislation you can get two and if you can get two you can get three… After al, its people lives we are fighting for for pain is a life ruining condition for too many Americans. And as Helen Keller said Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing- please continue your daring adventure for this noble cause of improving pain care- i am with you in spirit.

Well, many of us in Florida have tried calling and writing letters to our state reps but all we get back is excuses and form letters, that doesn’t even address our issues. Worse yet? The Aids who work at the reps office just delete our letters (emails) and many state reps never even hear your complaint at all. I have seen this happen from when 2 members from our group went to see their reps, they said they had no idea it was this bad!

So visiting the offices is the best chance. Take along some printed information with you, such as this article for one.

So lately, we have been asking everyone to go see their local state reps in person.

WE are planning another trip to Rally at our state capital again here in Florida. We are sick and fed up with the hassles and treatment we all have experienced.

So my biggest suggestion is to go see them. There is a local office in nearly every town. Life is suffering now days and it’s really, really bad!

Another idea:
I would also print out this article above, “DEA and pain patients” along with the comments and take the copies to all the pharmacies and your doctor offices. Sharing the problems will hopefully get more people and patients to help us to take action.

Please don’t give up! There are many people in the future that these same troubles will affect next.

Unfortunately, there has been many pain patients who have taken their own lives because of these same issues of pain and suffering. How many more lives will it take before something is done to educate the entire USA that chronic pain can kill folks? Are we going to continue to allow this to happen? I hope not. I pray that many of you will take action as soon as possible. How about this week?

I can’t believe how many are suffering these experiences and Congress hasn’t heard about this yet? I guess we just aren’t being loud enough yet. Yes human rights matters.

charles scott

Has Any one heard of a work comp adjuster telling the Dr. to modify one meds. I thought it was always between the Dr. and the patient. Had my Dr’s office call and leave me a mesaage saying that my work comp carrier that I have a lifetime med claim with, told them that they must modify my medication, Mind you I have been taking the same thing for the last 7 years, How is this legal?I dont think its legal but I guess I will soon find out.


When someone walks a day in my shoes then you can tell me how my Drs should treat me. I was diagnosed with a condition called EDS Type lll
Look it up!!! because you are not a Dr but the DEA. When you understand what this condition is, let me know how YOU can help me. Until then, please understand. I’d rather get up and go to work everyday and manage my pain that to go on SSI and feel even further pain from depression. It MAY not be completely your fault. But when you threaten my Drs/pharmacists with their very license to help me. They stop trying because they are afraid of YOU. NOT ME!! And when you understand my condition. I’d gladly have a conversation with you. And if you don’t want to bother to understand my condition. Only prevent me from proper treatment, then I’ll pray that you or your child never live with this debilitating condition. I could have said that I hope it happens to you or your child but I wouldn’t wish this on anyone


I agree with Mr. Kinch- people in pain need to organize to be heard and also you need to avoid the current and past mistakes of pain advocacy organizations. Some of the current pain advocacy organizations allowed doctors to be on their boards or serve as advisors- i believe this is a mistake. For we need to get beyond the limited and limiting vision of medicine that has failed people in pain. Congress and state legislators will defer to medical groups who have much more political capital than people in pain-and legislators always believe it is a great convenience just to do what doctors want. That is why i say pain care in America is more about moral and mental laziness than anything else. People in pain have the power to jump over the shadows in pain care to create the symbols of a new day. I dare say lawyers and doctors no longer seem to have the ability to have a vision worth considering for people in pain-they are the victims and victimizers of modernism. And so as someone who has helped some pain organizations and someone who lives in the only district in the Nation where my city, state and federal legislators have signed onto legislation to improve pain care- i know from experience about walking the walk in pain care advocacy.

Ralph Hunt

Had my Oxycontin taken away last week.
Dr Nick blamed the DEA.
If you ever need artificial heart valves DO NOT GET THE METAL VALVES! When on blood thinners the only pain med available is oxycodone and your not going to get it for long.
Oxycontin 10mg equals 20mg oxycodone as the generics are only half the claimed strength.
Am now planning on refining street heroin as I can’t afford the street price of oxycodone.
Quit smoking, drinking and over eating 35 years ago, have a lot of catching up to do with nothing to lose except a few painful years!
Obama care - all you need is a can of whipped cream and a trash bag!

As far as attorneys go, I think we would need to form a group and set some agenda points of what we’d want done legally. We would probably have to get a petition and some signatures going. Unless it’s a single lawsuit, not class-action. Then you would have to “show off” your injuries, embellish them a lot. If you have a “hidden illness, as most of us do, they won’t be apt to want the case.

The lawyers all told me the same story - “You look fine! You seem like a nice man, energetic and happy. Do you know how tough it will be for me to convince a judge? I’d have to fight for it.” Wish I could have had that attitude when I had to cook his hamburger or serve his lunch!

So I think step 1 is to find out how many Pain groups are out there, legal ones like foundations or associations. Then find out if they would be willing to combine forces to get a petition going with a class action agenda. This would require some organizing. Does anyone know any Law classes or professors? Maybe they’d be willing to do it as a class project or something.

At any rate, keep talking about it. The answer will come. Thanks for having the guts to talk the truth!


Has anyone found an attorney with balls anywhere in this freaking country willing to represent chronic pain patients or is the legal field going to just keep watching people with unbearable pain find a final solution?

They need to be fear-based to keep their jobs. For some reason they have trouble targeting true criminals. In order to reverse this the DEA needs to come out with a public apology and a promise to go after only people who break into pharmacies or sell drugs for recreational use. Or disband!

Trudy McGee

I know for a fact through my doctor who owns and manages a pain clinic and medical group, with a pharmacy attached to the above, that the DEA puts pressure on the distributors of the pain meds, and has them stop selling the meds to the pharmacy for fear that they will be shut down. Then the pharmacy has to find a new distributor. This has also happened to Walgreens, and their entire northeast distributorship. They were shut down by the DEA because they sold too many pain meds. No other reason, but an arbitrary DEA ruling. They may not be changing the laws, but they are changing the rules. And of course, y’all know who suffers…..


One additional comment; if the medical use of marijuana were universally embraced, the use of opiads by chronic pain patients would drop dramatically…


Thanks to a back surgeon whose huge ego was not matched by a similar level of talent, I have been left in permanent intractable pain. Despite my legitament use of both morphine and and hydrocodone ’round the clock, my life is often just barely tolerable. If I were told by my pharmacist that I had to wait for these medications, I could only hope the jury would excuse my temporary insanity. Fortunately, I am blessed with a compassionate pharmacy group.

Bob Twillman

This is a pretty accurate picture, in that DEA has no new rules/regulations, but they certainly have used their enforcement power to scare the heck out of both wholesale and retail pharmacies. They tell these folks that they have to “step up their game” and do a better job to police the bad actors. But when the pharmacies and wholesalers ask for help figuring out what to do, they are told that is not in DEA’s purview-which also is technically correct.

Understandably, these businesses take actions that are very aggressive because that is the only way they can reasonably be assured that they are protected and will be able to stay in business.

This is not going to stop until someone reins in the DEA. And who can do that? I’m afraid it’s only the Attorney General and his boss in the White House, or Congress. Call the DEA all you want, but if you want to have this fixed, it will only happen if enough people call their US Representatives and Senators, and call every time they have a problem. The squeaky wheel will eventually get greased, but people with pain are getting hurt until that happens.


This whole issue is troublesome. Will the real offender stand UP! While I have had no problems getting my pain medication, I have empathy with my fellow pain sufferers who are having the problem. Why is it so difficult for someone to tell the truth of what is really happening to prevent these discrepencies between these agencies, i.e. doctors, pharmacies, wholesalers, and federal regulators? All pain sufferers want,is to be PAIN FREE! No on is really interested in who is at fault, just correct the issue so pain medication can be obtained with the least amount of hassels possible. Until, someone of real importance is a chronic pain sufferer, my concern is the thousands of chronic pain sufferes will remain unheard!