Pain pill epidemic leaves some patients suffering

Pain pill epidemic leaves some patients suffering (Image 1)

Tennessee's pain pill addiction epidemic is leading to legitimate pain sufferers having to wait extended periods to fill prescriptions for pain medication.
News 2 spoke to a number of pharmacies, that did not want to be named, that have posted signs stating they do not carry certain opiates in stock.
Others said they keep a limited supply of certain pain killers to deter would be robbers from targeting their businesses.
The increased restrictions can mean patients will legitimate pain medication needs must wait 24 hours or longer to have their prescriptions filled.
Dr. Shawn Pruitt owns Pruitt's Discount Pharmacy on Dickerson Pike in Nashville. He has a full line of prescription medication, including opiates.
Dr. Pruitt has a number of security measures in place and is careful who he fills pain prescriptions for out of his store.
“It is an air of responsibility that the pharmacists carry,” he said. “We are also responsible for making sure this medication gets into the right hands.”
Dr. Pruitt told News 2 he has had people drive from Kentucky and Georgia to have pain medication prescriptions filled. He refused.
His pharmacy only fills prescriptions within a 30 mile radius to deter abuse.
“We look at a lot of factors,” he said. “We look at the controlled substance monitoring database and the patient's utilization history and in some instances you just have to use your gut.”
Tennessee has a major prescription drug abuse problem according to state health officials.
The most recent figures, from 2010, show that enough prescription drugs were prescribed in Tennessee to provide 51 hydrocodone pills to every Tennessean over 12 years old.
Prescription drug abuse in Tennessee outpaces abuse of marijuana and crack cocaine.
The epidemic has lead to thieves targeting pharmacies. Dozens of them have been robbed and burglarized. In some cases, the same store has been victimized multiple times.
As a result, pharmacists are opting to not keep the most powerful opiates on their stock shelves.
“Sometimes it puts people who legitimately need this medication in a tough position,” Dr. Pruitt said.
A number of pharmacists also said they will not fill prescriptions from certain physicians known for over prescribing pain medication or fill prescriptions for people who are not regular customers.
They said that helps makes sure the legitimate customers do not have to wait for relief because of other people's addiction.

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