Prescription meds crackdown means 'pharmacy hopping' for some - Tucson News Now

Prescription meds crackdown means 'pharmacy hopping' for some

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The war on prescription drug abuse is being fought inside Tucson pharmacies.

Many patients living in chronic pain said they are becoming casualties in this war, unable to get their pain medication because of a nationwide crackdown.

Earlier this month, we told you about a local pharmacy, The Medicine Shoppe, that was cut off from its supplier after going over limit in the number of pain pill prescriptions they filled.

Pharmacists there said they were simply trying to meet customer demand.

We dug deeper and found many pharmacies are struggling to keep up with prescriptions.

Because of the high rate of abuse of prescription drugs, there's a lot of pressure on doctors and pharmacies. Now patients are feeling the effect.

Many pharmacies said they're simply not taking on new patients.

Holly Alexander suffers from Pnudendal Nerve Entrapment that causes severe nerve pain.

She said she's in pain 24/7. She relies on her husband, Tim, to get prescriptions filled.

"I have to go 'pharmacy hopping,' I call it, to try and get them filled."

Today we went along for the ride with the goal to get the prescribed Methadone and Delaudid his wife needs for comfort. 

The first stop was the pharmacy at Fry's.

"She looked at the prescription and said 'I don't have the drugs in stock,'" Tim said.

Back on the road again, we hit up Walgreens.

"They did have the meds here but not the quantity she needed to get filled so they're unable to fill it," he said.

So we targeted the pharmacy at.. Target.

"The pharmacy said he did not have one medicine in stock. He was only comfortable filling the other medicine in a 6-day quantity."

And at the Walmart on Broadway: "This is a new Walmart with a new pharmacy, so they're not filling narcotic prescriptions yet."

Finally our last stop of the day: Safeway. "Still no luck here," he said. "They will not fill for this doctor."

Half a dozen pharmacies later, no luck- Alexander says he's not giving up yet.

"It's frustrating, wastes my time, costs me money and my wife still doesn't have her medicine."

He's not alone.

Maria Haas lives in constant, severe nerve pain.

"Ice pack to ice pack, pill to pill," she said. "My entire life revolves around ice packs and pain pills."

She's also used to the pharmacy crawl. What bothers her most? feeling like a criminal when she walks into a pharmacy to get her prescriptions filled.

"Oh, it's horrible. They treat you like a drug seeker."

"None of the pharmacists have outright accused me of being a drug dealer," Alexander said. "Several have insinuated that I'm doing it." 

We reached out to all the pharmacies we visited today. A spokesman from Walgreens released this statement:

"Because of the high rate of abuse, they're constantly looking for better ways to make sure medications are used for legitimate medical purposes and they're working to ensure patients have access to their meds while fulfilling their role in reducing the potential abuse of controlled substances."

We have requests in to Walmart and CVS for a comment but have not heard back from them yet.

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