Editor's comment: If you take opioid pain medications, please read this letter from Jan Chambers, President and Founder of the National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association, inviting you to take part in a survey regarding your ability to get your pain medication prescriptions filled.
As a result of enforcement changes made by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to deter illegal prescription drug use and abuse, more scrutiny is used on how people with chronic pain fill their prescriptions for opioid pain medications. The effect is already being felt across the nation as people try to fill their prescriptions.
Guidelines for doctors and patients have been determined, including a required signed contract between the physician, with the patient stating the name of the pharmacy where the prescription will be filled. Opioid prescriptions would no longer be faxed or phoned in to the pharmacy and could only be written for one month at a time with no refills. This means the patient would have to visit the doctor once a month to receive a new prescription for their pain condition. If the designated pharmacy refuses to fill the prescription, then the patient would return to the doctor for a new written prescription and add to the contract the name of another pharmacy where it will be filled. In one instance, a patient had to repeat this process ten times before finding a pharmacy to fill his opioid medication.
Responding to pressure from the DEA to implement tighter controls on filling these prescriptions, Walgreen Pharmacies recently sent letters to physicians which state: "Our pharmacists are required to take additional steps when verifying certain prescriptions for controlled substances. This verification process may, at times, require the pharmacist to contact you for additional information necessary to fill the prescription. While the information requested may vary, potential questions could include information about the diagnosis, ICD-9 code, expected length of therapy and previous medications/therapies tried and failed. Privacy laws allow you to share this information with another healthcare professional who is providing care to the patient." The American Medical Association is in the process of responding.
The NFMCPA’s concern is that this practice will expand and denial of pain medications will become common through the inappropriate use of DEA and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) power to withhold prescription pain relief from people who are suffering.
The NFMCPA is creating a position paper on patient rights to access pain medication, and we need your help. Your valuable input will guide us. If you take an opioid pain medication for your condition, please click here to take the National Pain Medication Survey. We will report the results in an upcoming monthly newsletter.
President & Founder
National Fibromyalgia & Chronic Pain Association