Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Dear Chronic Pain Patient

No one likes to be judged or categorized. You don't like to be thought of as a narcotic addict. We know that. Your pharmacist doesn't want to be thought of as a mean and despicable agent bent on keeping you in pain. Consider the following:

There's rules regarding the dispensing of controlled substances. A pharmacist protects his or her license by following those rules. An example of that would be the expiration date of a prescription for Percocet. It is good for 90 days from the date of issue. After that, it is expired. No good pharmacist would honor a prescription like that after 90 days.

We also have a mandate to protect the public, and sometimes that mandate is protecting the public from itself. For example, we would not fill a new prescription for Percocet a couple of weeks after the patient filled a 30 day supply of the same medication without good reason. There are no absolutes, however. Medications do get lost, stolen, left behind, accidentally destroyed, etc. In these cases the pharmacist uses his or her personal judgment to assess each situation individually. No good pharmacist wants anyone to suffer. This is an absolute.

The problem, dear reader, is that there is very distinct difference between a true chronic pain patient and addicts that will literally say and do anything for more narcotics. Most every pharmacist everywhere is inundated with addicts that lie and draw suspicion on a daily basis. A narcotic addict will literally say or do anything to get more narcs. And unfortunately, I see it on a weekly basis. Because of this constant bombardment from the addicts, your friendly neighborhood pharmacist is markedly distrustful and cautious with every new prescription for a controlled substance. 

Those that say all pharmacists are on a "judgmental ego trip" and that it is standard procedure to deny pain meds in "every chain pharmacy in America" are vastly misinformed. This simply isn't happening. It is the responsibility of the pharmacist to make sure every prescription is valid, appropriate, safe, and correct. Asking questions about a controlled substance is NORMAL. We're extra cautious BECAUSE of the addicts. That's NOT punishing the legitimate chronic pain patients, it's the result of years of dealing with those who take advantage of the system. It's unfortunate that a few people get categorized in the latter group, but not unexpected because of the opiate epidemic we deal with as a nation.

Instead of decrying the pharmacist who is just doing his or her job, we should applaud their efforts in trying to do the right thing. 


Anonymous said...

that is the very reason why I like to go to the same pharmacy to get all my meds. Besides it is what my insurance mandates but I get to develop a relationship with the staff.

Anonymous said...

Isn't a prescription the same as an authorization? I have a current refill on a muscle relaxer that my mail order insurance company pharmacy will not fill with out getting authorization from the prescribing doctor. I have not refilled this since Nov. It is a 90 supply. I don't understand why they have to contact him again! No wonder medical professionals hate insurance companies. This is time consuming redundant paperwork.