Access to Controlled Substances Often Delayed

NCPA: Access to Controlled Substances Often Delayed

Most pharmacists report experiencing multiple delays or issues with their controlled substance orders,

According to the report, in the past 18 months, about 75 percent of respondents experienced three or more delays or issues with their controlled substance orders, which were caused by stopped shipments.

The DEA, which is behind these delays, is now interfering with medical care.  It does not seem legal for them to confiscate or delay medication legitimately developed, manufactured, approved by the FDA, and prescribed by doctors and hospitals.  This is another absurd result of our country’s failed drug policy.

The “War on Drugs” has become an anachronism, out of step with science and medicine.  Allowing medical matters to be subjected to outdated government legislation and enforcement results in increasingly absurd (and futile) enforcement actions.

On average, these delays affected 55 patients per pharmacy.

Most pharmacies (89 percent) received no advanced notice of the delay, and only discovered the delay when their order arrivedand included only non-controlled substances.

The delays in receiving these medications lasted at least a week for 60 percent of the respondents.

The majority of pharmacists (67.9 percent) reported being unable to obtain these substances from an alternate source. As a result, most pharmacies had to turn patients away and refer them to a competitor.

You know things are serious when it affects somebody’s bottom line: pharmacies will undoubtedly become more vocal with their complaints when the DEA’s actions force them to send customers to their competitors.

Vulnerable patients are increasingly and tragically becoming collateral damage in the country’s battle against the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly narcotic painkillers,”

The report itself is at:

The survey included an open-ended section in which community pharmacists shared hundreds of observations, including the following:

“It is a shame to watch an arthritic 85-year-old do without.”

This situation has literally brought customers to tears in our store. I fully understand the diversion and abuse of these powerful chemicals. I agree that something must be done, but to deny pain management to deserving individuals is inhumane at best. We have to find a way to curb the abuse and still provide relief from pain for those truly suffering.”

We turn away patients on a daily basis that I am sure are legitimate patients with legitimate prescriptions with legitimate issues requiring pain management. I am one in a long line of pharmacies that turns these patients away because of the limits on what I can dispense monthly.”

“A few cancer and pain patients who really need their meds went without it for a few days. Has happened too many times.”

“We try to scrutinize all controlled substance prescriptions, but are made to feel like criminals when trying to service our patients”

This situation doesn’t discriminate between cancer pain and other chronic pain, as so much of the current debate about these opiate medications does.  Because cancer patients have always been considered an exception to the “no opiods for ongoing chronic pain”, they have a sanctioned right to complain about this treatment.  Let’s hope they do, because the rest of us with non-cancer pain cannot seem to make headway in our struggle for access to these effective medications.


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