The abuse of pain medication has become a growing problem throughout the country, and Florida, sadly, is no exception. Back in 2010, Florida legislators, with the support of Attorney General Pam Bondi, passed legislation aimed at the state's "pill mills." The legislation made it illegal to dispense narcotics from a medical office.
While our state has seen a drop in deaths caused by prescription drugs since then, some pharmacists, apparently out of fear of government or legal ramifications, are refusing to fill prescriptions for pain medications that many Florida residents legitimately need to deal with physical conditions.
At least one pharmacist has admitted publicly that he's certain that patients have died because they were denied their prescriptions. Even Bondi has acknowledged that "sometimes the pendulum swings too far the other way."
It's not just "mom and pop" pharmacies, but giants like Walgreens and CVS that have gotten nervous about filling prescriptions for certain drugs. CVS said in a statement that "our pharmacists use their professional judgment" in filling prescriptions. Just where the directives are coming from, however, seems to be a source of debate.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has been named as the source of the restrictive practices. However, in a statement, the DEA says that it "does not interfere between a valid doctor and legitimate patient relationship."
Meanwhile, our state's health department says that "the Florida Board of Pharmacy has urged [pharmacists] to always fill what they consider a valid prescription representing a legitimate patient-physician relationship."
One pharmacist says that he's not allowed to fill prescriptions written in particular zip codes within the state or to provide certain combinations of prescriptions. Patients and their loved ones say that they are made to feel like drug addicts and criminals for trying to get needed medications.
There may be no easy answer to the problem of doctors prescribing medications to people who don't need them. However, in the meantime, legitimately-ill Floridians are being denied necessary medications.
If someone is given the wrong medication or too high a dosage, they would have cause to consider a medical malpractice suit against the professionals involved. Those who are left in pain or have even worse consequences because their prescriptions were not filled should also seek legal guidance to determine what their options are.
Source: WESH Orlando, "Special report: Pharmacies denying legitimate prescriptions," Matt Grant, accessed July 14, 2015