DEA, FDA blame pharmacists for pain med shortages

Both the DEA and FDA insist they have no idea why patients are being told pharmacies are out of their pain medications. nor why pharmacists are “making decisions not to fill prescriptions”.

According to the DEA, “pharmacists who refuse to fill real prescriptions are not doing their jobs.”

According to the FDA:some pharmacies are making decisions not to fill prescriptions, for various reasons, so some pharmacies may be making business decisions, they may be making decisions about what prescriptions to fill.” (how can a spokesperson utter such gobbledygook?)

DEA questioned on prescription problems at Senate hearing | WESH.com | 1:46 PM EDT May 06, 2015

A report critical of the Drug Enforcement Agency went before some powerful senators in Washington on Tuesday, and WESH 2 was there. 

Watch this report

Thousands of patients across Florida are struggling with cancer, chronic illness or pain and are being denied their doctor-prescribed medicine.

investigating the DEA was not easy. It took more than a year to gather information on how the DEA regulates quotas for pain pills.

Sen. Chuck Grassley said the DEA refused to comply with GAO’s request for information and that he had to personally get involved in the process.

Patients often hear from their pharmacist that there’s a shortage of prescription medications. But why does that happen?

Many link it back to quotas, but there’s a large difference between the quotas wholesalers use to supply pharmacists and the ones set by the DEA.

“We have no oversight of what the industry does once we set the quota,” said Joseph Rannazzisi, deputy assistant administrator of drug diversion with the DEA.

The DEA lays out to manufacturers how much of a drug can be made. From there, the number of pills sent to a pharmacy is the responsibility on the wholesaler or supplier.

Both DEA and FDA records show there hasn’t been a shortage of any medications since 2011.

That didn’t stop a scathing review of the DEA’s performance in managing the drug quota process.

The report said the agency had no performance measures in place and no goals for its employees.

“I’m at the point where it’s starting to look like the DEA cannot manage administrative and regulatory responsibilities,” Whitehouse said.

DEA, FDA discuss prescription problems at U.S. Senate hearing | WESH.com | 7:31 PM EDT May 07, 2015

A WESH 2 investigation into the causes of Florida’s prescription-drug problem continued in Washington, D.C., this week.

The U.S. Senate took up the issue of patients with legitimate scripts for medicine being denied prescriptions at the pharmacy counter.

“I think that the DEA, as an investigative agency, has really done some wonderful things and many of its agents have done truly heroic things and I’ve had the privilege of seeing that first hand,” Whitehouse said.

But criticism for the agency came fast and furious as the DEA’s ability to manage the legitimate drug supply was questioned.

Senators heard Wednesday that

there hasn’t been a drug shortage in the U.S. in four years, meaning that when patients are told their medications are not available DEA quotas are not the issue.

FDA: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration believes individual instances of pharmacists not filling prescriptions is an issue that has to be dealt with at the state level.

“What we understand is that some pharmacies are making decisions not to fill prescriptions, for various reasons, so some pharmacies may be making business decisions, they may be making decisions about what prescriptions to fill. (how can a spokesperson utter such gobbledygook?)

That’s something that’s more managed by the state’s board of pharmacy,” FDA Capt. Valerie Jensen said.

After WESH 2 brought the investigation to Florida’s Board of Pharmacy, it formed a special committee called the Controlled Substances Standard Committee.

The DEA continued to claim Wednesday that pharmacists who refuse to fill real prescriptions are not doing their jobs.

Considering the DEA can’t even keep track of their own responsibilities, it’s disingenious for them to accuse anyone else of not doing their job.  They are simply following the unavoidable subconscious compulsion to accuse others of our own shortcomings.

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