Doctors claim pharmacy chain Walgreens refusing to fill pain meds

A local surgeon says he is fuming mad and totally frustrated about what he says has been going on at Walgreens pharmacies all over our area for more than a year.

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."

By Lena Sullivan 09/14/2012 06:15:00

Subscribe to comments feed Comments(4 posted)

Linda Tellez 05/03/2013 05:20:49
The exact same thing is happening to Walgreens customers in Arizona as well. Walgreens is discriminating against patients who are prescribed pain meds by scrutinizing and rejecting legitimate prescriptions. This is a widespread problem and whatever their "policy" is, it is unfair and was not an issue previously. Walgreens policy should be to comply with the DEA guidelines and requirements which do not include rejecting ALL narcotic prescriptions. If this is their new policy they need to inform all of their loyal customers so that we no longer waste our time since there is a Walgreens drugstore on every corner and they are all doing the same thing.
Roger 05/30/2013 14:55:11
I ran into this last month. The peson behind the counter told me Walgreens was being used as a test by some government agency to try out a new policy. I asked my doctor about it and he said Walgreens is asking for patient informaiton that he will not release to anyone. His office is telling patients not to go to Walgreens pharmacy. On top of that, I know someone who works for the state pharmacy board and she said they have recieved calls about this and that there is no such policy being tested. It apparently is something Walgreens management has taken upon themselves to enforce. All I can say is that they have lost one customer for sure and I would bet many others.
Roger 05/30/2013 15:02:31
I guess I should have mentioned that I was told that they had to contact my doctor and get some info before they would fill my perscription. I thought that meant they just needed to contact him to verify the perscription was good which is something that I really dont have a problem with but, after talking with my doctor, they apparently want more information than is called for.
Renee Caputo, M.D. 06/07/2013 19:07:23
I am a surgeon practicing over 20 years in Columbus Ohio. I received a call this evening from one of my patients for whom I had prescribed Nucynta for a chronic pain condition. She said her pharmacy needed clarification on her prescription before he would fill it. The pharmacy was Walgreens. When I called and spoke with the pharmacist, at first he wanted to clarify the dose because there had been a change, fine. Then he wanted her medical diagnosis! I told him I could not give him that protected information. He then said he could not fill the prescription that it was a new law passed in April that they had to have this information to fill narcotic scripts. My husband who is also a surgeon had not heard of this new rule either so when I pushed the pharmacist he then admitting it was a "company policy" that he could be liable if the patient had an adverse event from the medication. I informed him that as her prescribing physician I take full responsibility for any adverse events she may have. He refused to fill the prescription. So I told him I would need permission from my patient to give him that information. Once we received that I could give him that information. Interestingly, I never heard back from him. This is Friday evening so I will get my patient's side of the story when I get back in office Monday and I will definitely be contacting the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. Wow.
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