Terry Forshee is a true Pharmacy Warrior. More of us must publish the truth. Pain patients blame the pharmacy when we cannot fill their prescriptions in a timely manner. And when I say BLAME, they do damage with gossip and worse. Pharmacists have been sued for causing unnecessary pain and suffering. One poor bastard in Oakland really did not have OXY SR 80 mg in stock. An old, established customer believed that he was lying and sued him. Of course, he could prove in court that he did not do anything wrong. But the cost of an attorney and other associated costs caused him to settle. Not much. Ten grand, I remember. The damage to his independent pharmacy was not insignificant.
No pharmacist wants to deny necessary medicine to any patient. We did not just fall off a turnip truck. We know when the patient is a drug-seeker or a dealer. Why else would they drive 60 miles from the “clinic” to your store when they don’t live anywhere close? The DEA can trust us. Rather than an adversarial relationship, why not cultivate pharmacies as resources? If there is a true bad apple, nail them! WAG, CVS & Rite-Aid are not corporate bad apples. Walgreens has got to be on red-alert because a few pharmacists were idiots. The Pharmacy DMs need to be pilloried first, then the in-store pharmacists.
Next, a follow up report from the independent (Medicine Shoppe) owner who did her best to serve legitimate pain patients and may lose her store. If she allows me to publish the letter I received from her yesterday.
Not Jay Pee. This past Monday in our Chilli staff meeting, we had a vigorous discussion of the rampant prescription drug abuse in our society. Many of you have commented on the need to do something about the problem. I believe that the universal feeling is that certain doctors are guilty of very lax processes of Rx issuance. Below is a letter to the editor of USA Today which was published last week. The author is Terry Forshee whom we know from our membership in PDS. He points the finger not only to the doctors but more importantly the DEA as a large part of the problem. I thought that you would be interested in Terry’s thoughts.
Letter to the Editor of USA Today
June 12, 2013
As a practicing community pharmacist I read with interest the story on the fine agreed to by Walgreen’s Pharmacies. Since they agreed to the fine I assume that Walgreen’s agrees that they had a lack of control and has now taken steps to correct this oversight.
My concern is how the DEA spokesperson is so quick to point the finger at pharmacist’s oversight, wholesaler’s oversight but never seem to accept responsibility for the ultimate source of this problem. After all, which government agency licenses practitioners and enables them to prescribe these drugs in egregious quantities? Exactly the DEA! Who licenses the clinics that open? Exactly, the DEA! Who solicits from ALL of the major Pharmacy Benefits Managers dispensing data that shows who is writing these prescriptions? Exactly, the DEA!
My point is, why don’t they act on the entity that INITIATES the prescriptions? Because they are infringing on a physician’s decision making and that scares them to death! They are not physicians! By the time they get around to the obvious, thousands if not millions of prescriptions have been written.
Instead they pick the easy target, the community pharmacist. They question OUR judgment and give us ZERO opportunity to respond or explain why our decisions are made. They limit our ability to purchase medications. They threaten our suppliers if they don’t collect our patient’s private health data and turn it over to them.
We are being used as scapegoats for the meth craze and now the oxycodone explosion. The DEA is a typical bureaucratic entity that rather than solve the actual problem, would rather collect fines and pat themselves on the back publicly than listen to community pharmacists who MIGHT actually have some good ideas on how to address this problem.
Pharmacists KNOW who writes these prescriptions. In fact, a pharmacist friend of mine in Bean Station, TN lost his life at the hands of a drug head 2 weeks ago trying to do what the DEA expected him to do. We can point the DEA to rogue physicians. What we are not allowed to do, is play physician. How can we be SURE that a patient is a dealer and not a patient in real pain? One might say that you can tell by looking or that you can tell by the amount of the prescription but that is only true to a certain degree.
In the pharmacy in which I work we have strict protocols to determine whether or not to dispense. If it were up to our decision making process we would have removed hundreds of thousands of illicit medications from dealer’s hands. Instead when we turn them down they continue to go from pharmacy to pharmacy until they find one that is either too busy or slips up and gives them their medication. The root cause is the WRITING of the prescription. So instead of rewarding us for taking care of our patients they place arbitrary purchasing rules and squeeze wholesalers to limit the amounts that we can buy…whether or not we are following the rules. In turn this causes us to treat legitimate patients like drug addicts because we can’t get enough medication to fill their prescriptions.
It is like most issues facing community pharmacists today. The better we do our job the less we are allowed to do our job.
The bottom line is this…community pharmacists are the true gatekeepers of our emerging healthcare system BUT the “system” refuses to utilize us and pay us for the benefits we provide to our nation. We are not even recognized as a healthcare provider by Medicare so that we can be paid for providing services to our nation’s seniors. It is time to quit compromising our ability to do the job for which we have been trained. It is time for the DEA to quit squeezing those who want to be part of the solution and go after the obvious problem…the people that they license to write the prescriptions and begin the process.
I realize that by even commenting on this I place myself open to retribution but it is time to focus this debate on the real issue and not on the healthcare professional that places his/her life on the line everyday to make the right decisions.
President/CEO at Take Charge Pharmacist Healthy Lifestyle Strategies
The following you either pay strict attention to….or you are an idiot. This comment by PharmacistSteve is vital. He explains that a pharmacist backed down Rite-Aid, had his PDM censured by the Board of Pharmacy, and got some pretty good bucks. Essentially, the PDM ordered him to early refill. He refused, got lambasted by the PDM. It is not a controlled. Fill it. There was some anxiety, but he is young and survived it. The PDM tried to interfere with his practice of pharmacy. Originally, this guy contacted The Pharmacy Alliance. He wanted to know what it is all about. We explained that TPA is a pharmacist advocate first, on the high road. He joined, asked asked our advice (Steve & Jay Pee) and then took his stand. A very smart rat from the UK. Not raised in the wimp American culture. If you have been paying attention, you can easily guess the state where he practices.
A comment from PharmacistSteve. The Pharmacy Alliance had a member – on the west coast -contact us about being written up by a PDM with Rite Aid for refusing to early refill a Rx for Zanaflex. The RPH contacted the BOP and they backed the RPH.. eventually the RPH engaged legal counsel and Rite Aid flew some “bigwig” from corporate HR out to the west coast to have a meeting. The last I heard, the RPH has left Rite Aid for another job and took a fairly LARGE SETTLEMENT with him/her
One thing that seems a constant.. if you notify legal/HR BEFORE you are shown the door… and engage legal counsel.. they are much more reluctant to screw with the RPH.
If you look at the pure financial aspects.. if you spend one day’s pay to keep you on the job and drawing a salary for weeks.. while you look for another job.. and end up with a settlement.. that investment in legal counsel .. is paid back many fold