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Pharmacies Refuse to Fill Pain Meds

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    Pharmacies Refuse to Fill Pain Meds

    After T1-T9 spinal fusion back in 2008, I had continuous pain, and my ortho prescribed me Oxycodon and Oxycontin. After a couple of years the big "brand name" pharmacies suddenly had shortages (not to mention the exorbitant prices), and then would refuse to fill the prescriptions at all. Due to insurance changes, my ortho told me he would no longer be seeing patients who were using the particular insurance company I had, and told me that the best option would be to see a pain specialist. I found a good doctor in Santa Ana, CA, which is about 20 miles from where I live, in South Orange County. There is a compounding pharmacy right next door to his office, where I have been getting my prescriptions filled ever since (about 5 years).

    After 5 years:
    Because I am at home, bed ridden to heal a stage IV pressure wound, I have changed doctors to one (wound care doc but he is also acting as my primary doc right now) that makes home visits. Just to further complicate things, his "office" is in San Marcos, CA, which is a different county than me. He wrote me a new prescription for my pain meds, which I sent a care giver to fill today. I got a call from the pharmacy telling me that they would fill the prescription this one time, but going forward I would have to find a different (closer) pharmacy. I told her I didn't understand what the problem was, since I hadn't moved, and had been getting the prescription filled there for the last 5 or so years. I explained my situation about the wound, and the fact that if I took para transit I would be sitting in my chair for a minimum of 4 hours. I also told her that there was no pattern of abuse, or doctor shopping, and that she could contact my new doctor if she had concerns.

    She flat out refused to listen or help me in any way. She said if she filled my prescription she would get into trouble with the DEA. I can understand her concern about getting into trouble, but reading several internet stories and news articles today, it is obvious that pharmacies are determining the regulations in their own way, and are literally turning patients away and sending them on wild goose chases in search of a pharmacy that will fill their prescription for no reason. The only thing that I haven't read in these stories, is the end result.....for instance, did the patient/person who told their story ever find a solution to getting their meds filled? If so, how and what did they do? All the stories just leave it at the person have a problem and not resolving it.

    I did call a local DEA office, and spoke with an officer, and she said there is no rule that said that the pharmacist could not fill my prescription, that the pharmacist SHOULD take into account my history and current situation, and make appropriate notes in case she is questioned by the DEA about it, but that in the end, it was under the pharmacists discretion to fill or not fill the prescription. Which obviously leaves no accountability for them to do the right thing by their patients. They just label us all as "abusers", which is hurtful, disrespectful, and wrong in many, many cases. I am certainly aware that abuse goes on, but why punish everyone?

    One web site said that it's possible to file an ADA violation complaint. I could do this, but I know these take time. In the meantime, does anyone have any suggestions for finding a pharmacy who will fill my meds 30 days from now? Oh....and I have tried mail order through CVS, but that was a nightmare, as I wasn't getting the meds in time due to shipping/holiday/weekend delays, weather etc (I paid extra to use UPS). I would often be down to my last pill before I received my prescription, and that really made me freak out.

    If anyone of you lives in South Orange County, CA and has or knows of a pharmacy that fills these drugs please let me know. I have at least a month to figure out what I'm going to do.

    PS....I know someone is going to suggest it, and yes, I have tried cannabis, but I can't ingest it during the day when I have to work and be alert. I am too "loopy" while on it, and unable to concentrate (I tested myself by smoking some, and then doing some counted cross stitch embroidery, only to go back and look at my work the next day and found manny dumb mistakes!! LOL), not to mention, my workplace has a zero tolerance policy, even with a prescription.

    Last edited by wheeliegirl; 8 Oct 2015, 5:50 PM.

    Gee I wasn't going to suggest cannabis

    sorry for your frustration

    Using several pharmacies and physicians may have been alarming to the pharmacist

    nationally pharmacists and providers can track prescriptions from all locations and providers (except Missouri)

    now that you are settled stay with the same provider and pharmacy ask your provider to call the pharmacy for you on your behalf

    good luck

    Last edited by SCI-Nurse; 10 Oct 2015, 10:37 PM.
    The SCI-Nurses are advanced practice nurses specializing in SCI/D care. They are available to answer questions, provide education, and make suggestions which you should always discuss with your physician/primary health care provider before implementing. Medical diagnosis is not provided, nor do the SCI-Nurses provide nursing or medical care through their responses on the CareCure forums.


      I never said that I used several pharmacies or physicians. I said I switched physicians for obvious reasons so as not to weight bear in my wheelchair for hours to see the doctor and I send a care-giver that I pay $21 per hour to pick up my prescriptions, and I NEVER said that I used multiple pharmacies. I said in the PAST I tried mail order. That was at least 3 or 4 years ago. I clearly stated that I had been using the pharmacy in question for several years. Please re-read my post. You have completely misconstrued my point, and that is that the pharmacist was unwilling to even verify my new doctor's information/validity of the prescription, and is refusing me service, which to me sounds like an ADA violation.

      My doctor calling the pharmacy is not going to help, as it doesn't move my location closer to Santa Ana, does it. That is her whole issue, though it hasn't been for the past several years that I had been filling my prescription there.
      Last edited by wheeliegirl; 8 Oct 2015, 10:09 PM.


        Walgreens can keep track of and transfer prescriptions from location to location and state to state. This holds true even in Missouri unless something has very recently changed, as I have had to do this between Florida and Missouri many times. But sometimes even Walgreens pharmacists will not cooperate if they don't know you or the doctor. It may now have changed, but Walgreens used to be the only drug chain with a federally approved national registry. Also, in some states you can only move a prescription between different states one time without getting a new one. Arkansas comes to mind.
        2012 SCINetUSA Clinical Trial Support Squad Member
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          How long ago were you seeing the pain doc in Santa Ana? Does he/she know you well, and understand that you only stopped coming to see him/her because of your wound?

          I would still ask your current prescribing doctor AND the prior pain doctor to call the pharmaacist. You have nothing to lose. Since this pharmacy is right next door to the pain doc's office, I bet several of his patients use it. The pharmacist may know your pain doctor, and listen to them. The current prescribing doctor can also call and confirm the story.

          In situations like this, it is always better to have a 3rd person (doctor/nurse) advocating for you - not yourself.

          I would still be looking locally for another pharmaacy, as it seems a pain in the butt going so far anyway. Perhaps local pharmacies have had fewer issues lately. Things change. I would ask your current wound care doc for his recommendation, since he/she may need to make a call on your behalf.

          The fact that you have been using one pharmacy for 5 years, and that there is a very good reason for your recent doctor change is good.


            Perhaps I am missing something. In my mind the most obvious option would be to change pharmacies. If you live in Orange County, there has to be a plethora of options. Oxycodone and oxycontin are by no means difficult for pharmacies to get their hands on.


              One day I went to CVS, Wal-Mart, Rite-Aide, Target and Walgreens and none of them would fill my prescriptions. This is an epidemic. A Google search on the subject will take you to dozens and dozens of news stories and blogs about it. The DEA has tightened regulations so much that pain specialists don't even want to prescribe them.

              Additionally, the pharmacists is refusing to fill my prescription simply on the fact that I LIVE 20 MILES AWAY. So I am supposed to find a pharmacy closer to me, which I tried, and couldn't find.

              Yes, it seems obviously simple to resolve, doesn't it. But it isn't, and the patients who need their pain meds are paying for criminals who create fake prescriptions, patients who "doctor shop" and "pharmacy shop" and the pharmacies don't want to get slapped and interrogated by DEA officers.


                My doctor is telling me that Kaiser wants to stop prescribing OxyContin to all of their patients and that basically I have no choice but to change medications even though I spent a years time 4 years ago trying every other morphone and morphine and etc out there unsuccessfully. Sorry not really helpful with your question, but I wanted to let you know that it's getting tougher all over to get the oxy's even though it is the only medication that is specifically approved by the FDA for SCI related pain. Most of them are for cancer related pain. At least it was the only one that I found...



                  You could ask your doctor to call CVS or your usual Pharmacy, that is the reason he wrote a prescription! They are supposed to fill it. It is not their decision whether they fill or not fill a legitimate prescription. I do not know your condition, nor can I feel the pain you feel. But since some people abuse the prescription drugs, everybody who has a legitimate reason to use them is being punished. Such is the mentality of government, and many of the simple minded folks associated with creating laws in our Nation.
                  Last edited by Bob Sullivan; 28 Dec 2015, 2:10 PM. Reason: Emphasis


                    The pharmacy did speak with my doctor, and they CAN refuse to fill prescriptions if they feel there is a chance that they may not be legitimate. Yes, unbelievable as it might seem, no one could convince the pharmacist that the prescription was okay, even after speaking with the doctor. My doctor even knows someone at the DEA, and that person called the pharmacy and he explained to them that the reason they were using to refuse to fill the prescription were ridiculous, but they still wouldn't fill it. Pharmacies can and do refuse to fill prescriptions if they feel the least bit of suspicion. There is nothing we can do about it, except to go to our law makers and make it illegal for them to refuse, or sue them for violating ADA laws (in some cases). I'm done with this issue, there isn't anything I can do to fix it, as I explained, cried and yelled in defense of myself, and my doctor went above and beyond to try to help me as well.


                      This seems to be so very wrong. But if you stop fighting you are the one who is losing. They win by saying see she didn't need that prescription filled. You are the only one losing anything. Now I have to ask since you say you are "done with this issue" do you have a legitimate need?

                      The news media have gone on to a mission to condemn some prescription drug use, not just drug abusers. Your pharmacist is judge, and jury!!!! And your health care professional means nothing.