I’ve heard stories of people abusing the ADHD medication that I’m on, but I’ve been responsibly taking this particular medication since 2001 and my doctor would’ve easily confirmed that. I am a Berkeley student and my doctor is based in Berkeley…
According to the USA Today, “The policy at most drug store chains and the American Pharmacists Association is that druggists shouldn’t be forced to violate their beliefs, but they must make arrangements so the patient can still get the pills from another pharmacist at the store or direct the patient to a store that will fill the order. That makes sense. Pharmacists with objections to some medicines should identify those situations ahead of time, and stores should let the public know their policies.” This was not the case at CVS. There were no signs saying that they wouldn’t accept my prescription nor did the pharmacist make any offer to connect me with someone else or encourage me to come back at a different time. He simply chased me away and glared at me as though I was a criminal…
Update: the CVS pharmacy supervisor of Los Angeles called me to get more information. He agreed that what the pharmacist did was inappropriate and that, if he had doubts about the legitimacy of my prescription, he should have called Berkeley or held onto it to call in the morning. The supervisor said that he would make certain that his pharmacists had a proper protocol for what to do when they were confronted with similar situations. He was deeply apologetic and professional.
July 4th, 2014 at 1:15 am
Wow. You guys have no idea how stressful it is to try to figure out if a certain prescription is legit. I am a pharmacist myself and just in the past week, I filled two prescriptions for xanax and vicodin that was fake and I had no idea about it. Later, we found out that there was an identity theft and someone was filling these prescriptions under somebody else’s name and that person had no idea…
July 31st, 2014 at 7:06 am
I had surgery last October. I went to fill the medication that I was given for the pain. I went to the same CVS I have been going to for three years. The pharmacist refused to fill it because I looked high. First he said he didn’t have it, then called to another CVS. I was told that the other location had it, but not fill it for me. I was not going to drive back across the county. As I was walking away I heard him tell the technician, that he was not going to aid in someone’s addiction, she is high right now. I turned around when he said this and told him that when you have surgery you are given pain medications, and they don’t always wear off before you leave the hospital, and that I was not high I was tired. Four days later I went in and filled the same prescription for my husband, no questions. Same technician, different pharmacist. The pharmacist apologized for his colleagues behavior.
July 31st, 2014 at 7:10 pm
Last week I went to my local CVS, the one I’ve gone to for nine years to fill my family’s scripts including my son’s ADHD meds. My pharmacist told me that they did not have any the medication on stock and handed the script back to me. I asked when they would have it in. He answered that he did not know. In shock, I replied that I needed these meds for my son. I asked if he would check other CVS pharmacies. He said he was not allowed to do that. There was an awkward silence and I asked him what I should do. He replied maybe I should drive around town looking for a pharmacy that would fill it. He suggested that maybe I should have my son’s doctor change his medicine to something else! After getting over that shock, I reminded him that I had been a loyal customer of this CVS branch for nine years. That I relied on this CVS to fill my family’s meds and that I was now feeling let down and insulted. His reply was a shrug.
10/29/2009, Case Spurs Pharmacies’ Fears of Lawsuits Over Drug Abuse
When Patricia Copening, a petite, 35-year-old doctor’s office receptionist, bought nearly 4,500 doses of prescription painkillers one year, alarm bells sounded at the Nevada controlled-substance task force. The state board sent letters to 14 pharmacies in the Las Vegas area warning that Ms. Copening could be abusing drugs.
On the afternoon of June 4, 2004 — a year after the letters were sent — Ms. Copening climbed into a gray Dodge Durango, veered onto U.S. 95 and was seen weaving erratically in and out of three-lane traffic, witnesses later said. She plowed into 21-year-old Gregory Sanchez Jr., a delivery-van driver who had pulled over to repair a flat tire on the highway’s shoulder, killing him at the scene. She also hit Robert Martinez, 33, who had been helping Mr. Sanchez move packages out of his van. Mr. Martinez suffered a head injury, a broken right leg and other wounds. Ms. Copening wasn’t injured.
A lawsuit filed by Mr. Martinez, his family and Mr. Sanchez’s family, now pending before the Nevada Supreme Court, may be the first U.S. case to address whether pharmacies can be held liable when a customer causes a fatal car accident. The case, Sanchez vs. Wal-Mart Stores et al, asks whether drugstores must use information at their disposal to protect the public from potentially dangerous customers.
The Nevada case is part of a broader movement under way to place more responsibility for patients’ prescription-drug use on pharmacies.
At the same time, pharmacists have much more patient information at their disposal, thanks to pharmacy computer systems and a proliferation of state online prescription-tracking databases. The availability of patient information is only expected to increase as electronic health records are adopted by more and more doctors…
Earlier this year, the association passed a nonbinding resolution urging pharmacists to help reduce the excessive use of controlled substances by their customers.
The pharmacy industry — which includes big chains such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc., CVS Caremark Corp. and Walgreen Co. , all parties in the Nevada case — acknowledges the growing public pressure to curb prescription-drug abuse. At a recent conference of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores, conference materials called preventing prescription-drug abuse “the new focus in the war on drugs.” It noted that “public and private initiatives are looking to the entire supply chain, including retail pharmacy, to be part of the solution.”
Some predict higher insurance costs and more expensive prescriptions, to absorb the costs of additional lawsuits. In court filings, Wal-Mart argued that pharmacies might decide not to stock certain regulated painkillers. Walgreen suggested that the judgment of pharmacists could be pitted against that of doctors, as pharmacists struggle to decide whether to refuse a prescription…
In their defense, the drugstore chains argue that they face a dilemma similar to that faced by bartenders in some states. Bartenders can be held liable for the acts of customers served too much alcohol. Similarly, doctors have been successfully sued by car-crash victims for failing to warn patients not to drive under the influence of certain medications.
Nevada was one of the first states to systematically share prescription information among doctors, pharmacists and law-enforcement officials when it set up a computer database to track potential drug abuse in 1997…
In June 2003, the task force sent letters to the 14 pharmacies in the Las Vegas area, including Wal-Mart, Walgreen, CVS and others, warning them that Ms. Copening had purchased during the prior year 60 prescriptions, or nearly 4,500 doses, of controlled substances. Most were for medications containing hydrocodone, a frequently abused narcotic…
In Ms. Copening’s car, police found prescription bottles and loose pills, 167 in total, of hydrocodone, Soma and other drugs. Police reports said Ms. Copening appeared confused. She took off her low-heeled sandals and tried to walk barefoot in a straight line, following a patrol officer’s directions, but struggled to keep her balance. When police asked, she couldn’t remember the name of one of her two children.
She claimed she had taken only medicine for a migraine headache that day; a blood test detected hydrocodone. She was charged with reckless driving, driving while intoxicated and being involved in a fatal accident. Ms. Copening pleaded guilty to two counts of reckless driving and served nine months in jail…
Individual pharmacists have been successfully prosecuted for knowingly filling controlled-substance prescriptions that weren’t issued for legitimate medical needs. In guidelines to pharmacists, the federal Drug Enforcement Administration says: “The pharmacist who deliberately looks the other way when there is reason to believe that the purported prescription had not been issued for a legitimate medical purpose, may be prosecuted….” Pharmacies have said that the guidelines leave open questions about what practices are unacceptable…
But recent court decisions have expanded pharmacists’ responsibility. In 1994, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled in Hooks SuperRx Inc. vs. McLaughlin that a pharmacy had a duty to stop dispensing painkillers to a patient who was refilling a prescription faster than normally would be appropriate.
In the Nevada case, Clark County district court Judge Douglas W. Herndon dismissed the pharmacies from the suit, noting that the Nevada law creating the task force doesn’t specify what action, if any, is required by the pharmacies.
The families appealed to the state Supreme Court, which heard oral arguments in March.
Lawyers for the pharmacies argue that, while drugstores may choose not to sell drugs to a customer, they had no legal obligation to turn away Ms. Copening or to protect the general public from her actions…
When a Pharmacist Refuses To Fill a Prescription
In several highly publicized incidents in Texas and Wisconsin, pharmacists refused to fill prescriptions for the “morning-after” pill based on religious or ethical beliefs. The Texas pharmacists lost their jobs, and the Wisconsin pharmacist was sued. Though such severe consequences are rare, these cases have generated a lot of controversy, and state and federal legislation.
Four states—Arkansas, Georgia, Mississippi and South Dakota—have passed laws allowing pharmacists to “opt out” of filling prescriptions they find morally objectionable, and at least 13 others are considering doing so.1 The governor of Illinois, on the other hand, introduced legislation to compel pharmacies that carry contraceptives to fill all prescriptions for birth control. At least four other states are considering legislation that would require pharmacists to fill all prescriptions presented to them…
Can I sue Rite Aid Pharmacy for refusing to fill my prescription, which caused me pain and suffering?
I obtained a refill of my prescription for Ativan from Rite Aid Pharmacy on January 8, 2014. I am going through a deeply traumatic and emotional time, and was forced to take more than my usual dose. I ran out of medication, and phoned my psychiatrist who is out of state (I am just visiting California for the holidays). The psychiatrist faxed a completely new prescription to the pharmacy, but to my surprise, the pharmacy refused to fill my script!! I could not believe that a pharmacist could override a physician’s prescription. I had to wait another week until I returned to see my psychiatrist, but in the meantime, I suffered severe withdrawal symptoms and traumatic stress. Am I entitled to any compensation?
8/29/2010, Pharmacy Debate: Refusal to Fill
The issue is often framed as a question of patient rights vs. pharmacist rights, due to the public controversy over the emergency contraceptive “Plan B” which has unfolded over the past decade. However, the issue carries broader implications, extending to drugs intended for abortion or immediate post-abortion care, lethal injection for use in the potentially abused medications such as narcotics.
The stakes are so high for interested parties that states across the country have been pressured to take a position for or against pharmacists’ refusal to fill through legislation and policy changes. As of November 2006, five states (AR, CA, GA, MS, SD) have chosen to codify the right of a pharmacist to refuse to fill a prescription on moral grounds, while four (IL, MA, NC, PA) have passed legislation requiring pharmacists to fill or transfer certain prescriptions.1
On March 23, 2007, Washington became the 5th state to take a stance against refusal to fill when their Board of Pharmacy amended policy to require that pharmacists make a good faith effort to fill any legal and medically appropriate prescription.2 At the same time, the Board set standards defining and mandating professional behavior in cases when declining to fill is unavoidable. Specifically, pharmacists may not destroy or refuse to return a lawful prescription, violate patient privacy or rights under federal anti-discrimination laws, or intimidate or harass a patient…
For patients wishing to fill a controversial medication, the inability to access a willing healthcare provider is a barrier to care. Sometimes that barrier can be overcome by simply seeking out an alternate care provider. In other cases, no alternate is available. Some patients may be unable to access an alternate due to personal limitations such as transportation, insurance coverage, finances, prior time commitment to an employer, or lack of knowledge about where and how to access alternate care.
As with emergency contraception or pain medication, timely access to medication may be crucial, so a temporary delay may be undesirable, despite the presence of other accessible medication providers….
To further complicate matters, individual pharmacists may be willing to accept some moral objections, but not others. For example, most pharmacists consider it not only acceptable but morally responsible to decline early refills on narcotic medication…
Instead of berating those who do not feel comfortable dispensing controversial medications, we should be working to improve the number of access points… Those of us who gladly dispense controversial medications need to step up and announce our presence. Only when the public knows who we are and how to access our services will the controversy be over.
Daniel Blackaby says:
04.23.07 at 12:17 PM
While I agree that pharmacists should work together as a whole to provide all possible options for their patients to obtain legally prescribed medications, I disagree with the notion that those pharmacists who are willing to provide certain controversial medications should advertise such practices. One problem healthcare providers must deal with, even in modern times, is religious persecution for their actions. The last thing that any pharmacist needs to be worrying about is creating a target for anti-abortionists. What is to stop certain radicals from bombing local pharmacists just as they kill physicians who perform abortions? It is an unfortunate fact that these groups are able to practice violence and terror in order to further their religious beliefs. I would ask anyone and everyone in the medical community to work together to deal with this controversial moral dilemma that faces not only physicians, but pharmacists also.
05.25.13 at 7:50 AM
I keep coming back to this post. It strikes a nerve and also hits me personally. What I am finding (at least recently (JUST) in WA state) is that the “…DEA is cracking down on pharmacists…,” writing and implementing new guidelines for the pharmacies to follow. These “guidelines” however, do NOT take into account how long you’ve been on a medication, your doses, your tolerance…
02.12.13 at 5:34 AM
Nancy, I am a retired law enforcement officer and have worked as a paralegal… Walgreens refused to fill my scripts after they had been filing the same scripts for the past year and then ban me from having those scripts filled at ANY Walgreens store. I have heard that CVS has a “black list” of doctors that they are refusing to fill. I have called the govenor of my state, tried to file a complaint with Dept of Health & Human services who regulate pharmacist, written to and spoke with my congressmans office and tomorrow I will continue the fight…
Consumer Complaints & Reviews, Wal-Mart Pharmacy
Roni of Elk Grove, CA on Dec. 24, 2014: A few months ago I was started on pain management medication Norco and Soma. This process has been a nightmare because Walmart is out of stock in one or the other medication practicality each time I go. This month I’ve been waiting 2 weeks for my Soma. They tell me everyone is having the same issue so I checked with a Rite Aid and they told me that simply was not true. I have has two major muscle spasms without my muscle relaxers. Two months ago they gave me a partial refill of my Norco because they didn’t have enough in stock. When I went to get the other half they tell me that because of the new law they are not allowed to fill my prescription without a paper script. When I asked them why I wasn’t informed about this when they gave me a partial, all I got was a “Sorry Ma’am.” After the second issue of out of stock meds I ask them if this is going to be a regular issue and they assure me that they were just adjusting to the new laws. Well that was just another dishonest answer.
1/21/2012, Rx for Danger: CVS’ ‘blacklist’ of some doctors sparks outcry, legal action
Two months ago, a small number of doctors in Florida received an unsigned letter from CVS/pharmacy informing them that the company’s pharmacists would no longer fill prescriptions they write for painkillers and other powerful, addictive drugs.
The letter, which some have referred to as a “blacklist,” has been criticized as discriminatory, and at least one Orlando doctor is firing back with legal action, claiming CVS has essentially pegged him as a criminal.
But CVS is also being praised for taking the measure at a time when prescription-drug abuse has reached epidemic proportions in Florida…
But this is the first time a major pharmacy chain is taking such an action — at least publicly — and it’s unclear what impact it will have. Industry experts say they can’t recall another instance in which a pharmacy chain refused to fill a group of doctors’ Schedule II prescriptions. So what’s the motive behind such a measure? CVS won’t say. Though the spreadsheet of doctors is titled “CVS-DEA: Florida High Prescribers,” a spokesman with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said his agency…
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Janet Colbert, a founding member of the STOPP Now (Stop the Organized Pill Pushers) organization…
5/24/2013, Pain Management Doctor Sues Pharmacies, Says They Won’t Fill Prescriptions
CVS Caremark and Target pharmacies blacklisted a doctor, won’t fill his patients’ prescriptions and falsely told them he is on a federal “watch list,” the doctor claims in a class action.
Dr. Roy H. Simon sued CVS Caremark, CVS Pharmacy, Target, and Rite Aid, in Superior Court. He claims there are hundreds of doctors in the class.
Simon describes himself in the complaint as a “pain management physician.” The California Medical Board placed his medical license on probation on April 12, 2011, but the Sacramento Superior Court overturned the suspension on Sept. 4, 2012, Simon says in the complaint…
Simon claims he was blacklisted due to claims-processing software pharmacies use that have access to the Medi-Cal Ineligible and Suspended Providers List. He claims: “The defendant pharmacies use the Medi-Cal Suspended and Ineligible Provider List to bar hundreds of listed doctors’ patients from legally obtaining prescription medication, despite the fact that those patients are not Medi-Cal beneficiaries.”
3/11/2009, Up from the comments: Pharmacist objection to legitimate MS Contin prescription
Well, this comment came in from attorney and cancer patient, Sharon Red Deer, former faculty member at the College of Law at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion (MS Contin is an oral, controlled release form of morphine sulfate):
What an interesting discussion. I came across this website researching a law review article I am writing about the hysteria of opioids from the medical community due to my disciplines “war on drugs”. My interest is both professional and personal.
A pharmacist at Walgreens (where I have been customer for several years) refused, on Sunday, to fill a prescription for MS Contin (obviously from my doctor) because he “that I should find some alternative pain relief”. Of course, he doesn’t know that I am terminal or anything else about me. I have had a prescription for MS Contin since I was diagnosed 2 years ago; every month I have it filled there…
In addition, I just now returned from my doctor, had my unfilled script in hand (now this is Tuesday) and asked her I should do. No answer. Then she suggested I select a new pharmacy. The next one is 30 further miles away. And the kicker: she sided with the pharmacist. Yep. I said to her that this man doesn’t know my history; doesn’t know whether I am terminal or in severe pain from anything.
Her response: (Laughs) and says “he probably gets more drug seekers than terminal patients”. What a ridiculous statement, I don’t know how he would think I was an “illegal” drug seeker when I had a history there for the same drug and the “script” was in hand. It really is enough to shuck it all, and just suffer. The indignity is unspeakable. It is similar like drowning and begging passersby to help you; and instead they ridicule you and say “swim!”.
(2012) Pharmacist Responsibility for Screening of Opioid Use in Non-Tolerant Patients
Dee v. Wal-Mart 1, a legal case from the Florida Court of Appeals in 2004, is instructive. The surviving spouse of a patient sued a pharmacy alleging negligence in filling a prescription for the patient. The trial court dismissed the case and the appellate court reversed the dismissal. The facts showed that the patient had received a prescription for a 50 microgram fentanyl patch following a Cesarean section. There was no time limit specified on the prescription. The patient did not have the prescription filled following her Cesarean section. More than four months later the patient presented the prescription for filling at the defendant pharmacy. The patient used it to treat pain from a fractured ankle. The patient died in her sleep as a result of fentanyl toxicity.
4/18/2013, Boycott Walgreens
Yesterday too, perhaps as a result of this new policy, a Walgreens pharmacist refused to fill a prescription for buprenorphine I had phoned in earlier. When I contacted the pharmacist a second time, she advised me that because the patient had apparently used the prescription faster than directed I must alter the prescription before she would refill it. I refused, and instead filed a complaint against the pharmacist with the state Board of Pharmacy. I ordered the refill from a different pharmacy…
Use social media. Tweets that include @Walgreens will get the company’s attention…
What really happens when someone is “labeled a drug seeker” in the U.S.?
Tommyboy said (01/30/2012): In the case of my friend who saw two doctors for the same thing, he received a letter in the mail about it. I don’t remember what company/agency sent it though, but the letter came off as them being concerned, instead of saying he was busted (although it did say they notified both prescribing doctors about it). It said that they sent the letter because their records indicated he was seeing multiple doctors, and they notified both him and the doctors in order to prevent him from having any dangerous drug interactions from combinations that he may be taking since both doctors did not know they were both treating him and prescribing him stuff. The letter also said that another reason they send them is to notify the doctors the person is seeing in an attempt to minimize prescription drug abuse and diversion, which as we know is probably the only reason they sent it. It is then up to those doctors to continue treating you or not, but I’m sure that if one of them does, they will be very cautious of what they prescribe you from then on. In the case of my friend the doctors sent him a letter refusing to see him again.
ihatepipes said (9/2/2012): This is really the reason I am asking because my my dad is a PM patient he tells me his medicine is not working as good as it use too (he does not abuse his meds i.e. he swallows them whole always). I say: “you need to talk to your doctor about that because tolerance builds over time” He says: I am scared to talk to him about it because I don’t want to risk losing what I am lucky enough to get”.
The messed up part about it is that the doctor has really given my dad a reason to be afraid. My dad tried to talk to his dr. awhile ago about his dosage The doctor right tells him he won’t up his dosage leaves the room and a MA comes back into the room with a cup for a fucking piss test (my dad does not drink or take any medicines than the ones he is prescribed).
brutus said (2/13/2012): I’ve done it several times but never had any problems, but I live in Georgia and we don’t have a prescription monitoring program. A lot of pharmacies here are refusing to sale bupe and that’s just fucked up on several levels…
^ I think that is the reason why some places here won’t sell bupe. It just seems to be the smaller pharmacy chains and even the mom and pop style that won’t carry it. The pharmacist told me that there was too much paperwork associated with having to fill bupe scripts and even more requirements were supposed to come out in 2012. But my bupe doctor said the same thing verbatim. I never really checked into what he said about all the requirements because I figured he was exaggerating.
I do live in a rural area, but there are plenty of bupe patients so the demand is here. My pharmacy didn’t have an issue with it about 4 years ago, but the pharmacist didn’t even know what Suboxone was used for. Plus I figure that maybe the smaller pharmacies look at it like selling the morning after pill to young girls or even needles to suspected IV drug users. I know the later is against the law in the majority of states, but still it is apples and oranges to selling bupe. If ethical reasons are behind some places not selling bupe then that’s some fucked up shit. It would be like refusing to sell insulin to a diabetic because you think that the diabetic should do something else about diabetes instead of using insulin.
Coraline said (2/17/2012): If you see a dr you have a medical record. Everything from a cold to a bladder infection has a ICD-9 code. These codes are for diagnosing conditions. Each number means a different thing. Drug seeker and people who use any substance and it is found in system via urine, hair, blood or by word of mouth will have a IDC-9 code for that substance in their file. It does not go away. If you file insurance it will be in your record there. If you are in a hospital it is in that system. Once you are labeled it is kinda hard to escape it. Most physicians will ask for past records and if you do not let them that throws up major red flags. There is a record for each of us and past medical history can be hard to escape. When patients become demanding yelling be really inappropriate when it’s not even time for more medication and there is no organic cause for the pain, thats when people take a closer look at them. This is how they get labeled.
Hybris said (2/25/2012): 37 states now have implemented a PDP in some form or another. I live in Indiana and they require anyone issuing scheduled medications to submit a report of what was prescribed within 7 days. Along with this, a practitioner can request a report on any patient they are treating which will show a list of all medications they have been issued. As far as HIPPA goes, they state that “numerous safeguards are in place to protect confidentiality” and give this list as people who can access the information…
Ian MacLeod said (3/5/2012): Why should it not be appropriate? It’s a really bad problem in the U.S. for CPPs – Chronic Pain Patients (there are 116 million CPPs who are untreated, poorly or incorrectly treated). I ought to know – I’ve been one now for 29 flippin’ years! In fact the VA almost killed me around that, and they did, I’m morally certain, shorten my late wife’s life by crippling me. The VA has a set of DSB criteria (Drug Seeking Behavior) that will eventually nail anyone on regular opiates. If you’re a pain patient especially, you’re screwed. Technically they review your DSB status every 3 years, but the letter I got from the head of the DSB board said, “We will remove the red flag when stop acting like an addict.”…
…but the DEA has its own and they ignore the actual medical science behind CP treatment. They’ve learned that doctors and small clinic don’t shoot back, and since they can steal assets even before a doctor has been charged and leave the doc destitute, it’s seriously profitable. They share the money around to local cop shops, the school boards etc., so everybody gets at least a taste… They attack a clinic in full SWAT gear, drag half-dressed patients out of exam rooms and them and the patients and kids in the waiting room at gunpoint (gotta watch those little kids; they might haul an AK out their diapers and start blasting away!), steal patient records (another way to be sure no doctor will see the patients that are now medically abandoned)… Normal billing practices becomes “money laundering,” and regular opiate scripts or “high-dose”opiate treatment become “knowing and deliberate over-prescribing for no legitimate medical purpose.”…
GapDragon said (7/17/2013): I had been taking pain medication as prescribed by pain management doc for about 15 years and decided that the treatment might be worse than the pain. I then made a disastrous decision and went to a detox/rehab center to get off the pain meds without having to go through withdrawal. Once out of the rehab facility, I found out that every doctor, er, urgent care facility, etc knew about the rehab and would no longer prescribe me any controlled substances. This included the klonopin that I had been taking for 9+ years. The rehab center took me from 4 mgs per day to 0 in 9 days. Needless to say, I was still in very active withdrawal after leaving rehab. I finally found a pain doc who also does suboxone treatment to withdraw from opiates. So that he could be sure which withdrawal symptoms were which, he put me back on klonopin and suboxone. After getting me out of withdrawal, he is keeping me at the same suboxone dosage and is tapering me off of klonopin. I think he is still going too fast(reducing daily dosage by .5 mg every 5 days) but it should be better than the previous attempt. Once I am off klonopin, he will start a suboxone taper.
If it matters, this is in NE FL(Jacksonville area).