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Doctors claim pharmacy chain Walgreens refusing to fill pain meds

Doctors claim pharmacy chain Walgreens refusing to fill pain meds

Top local surgeons are going after a major pharmacy chain for refusing to fill legitimate pain medication prescriptions.

Investigative reporter Aaron Diamant talked with doctors who say the company is harassing their patients.

The surgeon who tipped Diamant off to the situation said he was fuming mad and totally frustrated about what he said has been going on at Walgreens pharmacies all over our area for more than a year.

Diamant spent two days trying to get answers from the company.

Nationally-known Smyrna plastic surgeon Keith Jeffords said more of his patients keep running into the same problem.

"This happens at least every other week in my practice," Jeffords said.

Pharmacists are challenging, and in many cases refusing to fill legitimate prescriptions for post-operative narcotic pain medications such as Vicodin at Walgreens pharmacies.

"It's a consistent finding through any metro Atlanta Walgreens that a patient is harassed," Jeffords said.

Robin Haaland, who flew in from Utah for a procedure in August, got turned away at a Walgreens along Cobb Parkway, even after Jeffords spoke to the pharmacist himself.

"At the time I was more embarrassed, because there were people standing around. I felt like I did something wrong," Haaland said.

"We can't get to the bottom of it," said plastic surgeon Dr. Carmen Kavali.

Kavali said Walgreens pharmacists routinely refuse to fill pain med prescriptions for her patients, too.

"We called. Shut down. Can't get anywhere. There's no information to be had. The manager just says this is our policy. What's your policy? Tell me what it is so I can meet your policy and get these prescriptions filled for these patients who need them," Kavali said

Unable to get answers, Jeffords has posted a warning for patients in his lobby and on his practice's Facebook page.

"I'm not going to have any of my prescriptions go to Walgreens ever again," Jeffords said.

The surgeons say their colleagues in our area are dealing with the same thing.

After two days of investigating, Walgreens sent Diamant a statement, saying, "Our pharmacists use their professional judgment when evaluating and dispensing all prescriptions. They can consult with the prescriber or patient at any time if they feel a medication prescribed is not appropriate. We are looking into the concerns that were raised by these prescribers."