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CommonHealth: Policy, Pharmacies And Patients In Pain

In this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP)

In this Feb. 19, 2013, file photo, OxyContin pills are arranged for a photo at a pharmacy in Montpelier, Vt. (AP)

One hundred million Americans live with chronic pain — and that’s the subject of this week’s CommonHealth segment.

Specifically at issue is a new policy at Walgreens, the nation’s largest pharmacy chain, that might add an extra step to the process of procuring a prescription for pain medicine.

Walgreens is now requiring pharmacists to verify prescriptions for certain controlled substances, which means they might contact doctors and make sure they were correct in prescribing pain relievers and other controlled drugs before giving patients their medication.

Many patients and physicians call this a bad idea.


Judy Foreman, health columnist and author of the forthcoming book, “A Nation In Pain: Healing Our Biggest Health Problem.” Read Judy’s Commonhealth post here.

Carey Goldberg, co-host of WBUR’s CommonHealth blog.

Other stories from this show:

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Linda Niemczyk

    It’s 2013 people! Get into modern technology and have a nationwide data base so doctor shopping, and addicts can’t get the script unlawfully.

  • syber

    The DEA is involved because some people were unlawfully engaging in the drug trade. The number of those involved in legal drug trade in comparison to the large number of those in pain. So these tight regulations are made to keep legitimate usage
    small and keep people in pain. In Florida, people with Rhumatoid
    arthritis and cancer are exempt but the exemption makes no difference as
    they are treated as if there was no exemption. Medicine is between the
    physician and the patient and unless the DEA feels the doctor is
    derelict in his duties, then they need to stop preventing people from
    getting the medicine they need. For every drug seller there is likely 1000 people in pain. Focus is on those in pain if we call our selves compassionate.

  • Joselynn M. Badman

    It is sad things have gotten out of hand. For everyone person who abuse their pain medicine prescription there are thousands of honest chronic pain sufferers who do suffer. There must be some form of database that records the name of the patient, the prescribing physician and the dates the prescription is filled. Then a warning would alert if there is an attempt to fill a script too do and/or is different pharmacies were being used by the same person for the same or different pain medications. Chronic pain sufferers should have to suffer any extra “pain”. Sadly, I did see a sign at a Walgreens pharmacy stating “Please be advised, additional informational be needed by your physician for a pain medication prescription.”

  • Jody Allen

    I, too, think it is sad things have gotten to this point. I have chronic pain. I’ve seen prescription med pains bought, sold and traded in the backrooms and bathrooms of places I’ve worked. So I can see this from both sides. But it does anger me that those with chronic pain are made to suffer more because of drug abusers.

  • 1Forced_Registration

    They already do this at the pharmacy of last resort for me… It means that something that should take 10-20 minutes tops to fill can often take a day or more for my doctors office to get back to them. This is VERY unhandy when my regular pharmacy doesn’t have enough of my meds in stock, and cannot get them within the 72 hour period(a Missouri state restriction) for filling CII meds. By the time I’ve reached to Walgreen’s I have already been to 2-3 other places, and the extra wait is very annoying (especially if its near the end of the day and my doctor has left early).

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