• linkedin
  • Increase Font
  • Sharebar

    DEA official blames pharmacists, doctors for pain-med denials

    "It's always popular to blame the government for something."

    Following the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s recent crackdown on unscrupulous doctors and questionable pharmacy practices, many patients have complained of increasing difficulty filling legitimate opioid prescriptions.

    But a DEA spokesman said the agency is not trying to limit access to opioid painkillers. And if legitimate pain medication prescriptions are not being written or filled, it’s the fault of doctors and pharmacists, not the government.

    “We’re not doctors. We’re regulators and enforcers of the law. If something is prescribed for a legitimate medical purpose, we’re certainly not going to get in the way,” DEA spokesman Rusty Payne told the National Pain Report. “If a pharmacy chooses not to fill a prescription for someone, that’s their decision. It’s not the DEA’s decision,” he said.

    Mark Lowery, Editor
    Mark Lowery an Editor for Drug Topics magazine.

    33 Comments

    You must be signed in to leave a comment. Registering is fast and free!

    All comments must follow the ModernMedicine Network community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated. ModernMedicine reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part,in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

    • PhilipMonroe
      Always, always with the DEA: Hypocrites !! THEY make Tyranny, Oppression, and War on the American People - then say THEY are being victimized by Medicine Itself, oppressing THEM because they are the 'evil government'. "Oh, we're only being Nannies, for your own good, and making it near impossible for legitimate patients - most including the elderly and the uninformed - to get essential pain medication." Sadistic SAVAGES, as exhibited by their new big target, which is simple VICODIN. Drug Enforcement Agency - you are disgraces to the United States of America, and to yourselves, ladies and gentlemen !! DOWN with you Corrupt Oppressors, who are in bed with the FDA and with the Cartels, and who are just a bunch of lazy-ass Workers of Iniquity !!! (As a sideline, Mr. Mark Lowery, I double-dawg DARE you to print this comment! Otherwise, consider yourself to be a craven coward, and a DISCRACE to yourself, sir)!
    • JOHNDELLANTONIO
      typical of a government agency all they are interested in is the money generated from fines. cardinal fined 34 million, who went to jail??? this bullshit has to stop. the dea hasn't done one thing to decrease the abuse of drugs, because there isn't any money in it for them. they harass and fine businesses, hospitals and providers just to collect the fine monies for their department. we need leaders that believe in and follow the constitution. Ron Paul 2016
    • RICHARDSULLIVAN
      the question how many independent pharmacies have your wholesaler stopped shipping controlled medications? the issue is important for my pharmacy is such a victim.
    • Dr. Phil Hopkins
      This underscores what a danger the DEA has become to the safety of the American public. In order to write a narcotics prescription a prescriber has to have a specially issued number that comes from--wait for it--the DEA. Essentially this is a case of people with too much power and too little IQ. They are saying "we approve of this prescriber, but we don't really." And while they are building federal cases against a small number of people the DEA contribute to overdose deaths by tying the hands of the medical boards so they can't pull the prescriber's license and allowing prescriptions for thousands of narcotics tablets to enter the black market...and then go behind like cheap bullies and penalize the pharmacies that filled prescriptions wrtten by someone the DEA approved to write them in the first place. Eventually the news media will figure this out and it will be scandal and house cleaning time for the DEA---and it is waaaay overdue.
    • Anonymous
      Of course DEA denies responsibility. They are government agency, right. Their investigators have a full 4 months of training in the academy at Quantico, Virginia. The training paints doctors and pharmacies as the enemy, but of course it isn’t said blatantly. When they graduate the investigators have a magical capability of knowing just how many doses of a controlled substance should be prescribed and dispensed. They do have college degrees, but few of them pertain to medicine. DEA is completely at fault for the rise in prescription drug abuse. The agents still call it “kiddie dope” and had rather not deal with it. Of course the diversion investigators aren’t allowed to do undercover work, make arrests, participate in search warrants, or have informants. They have to go beg an agent to do it for them. As might be expected agents are reluctant to accept such responsibility since they know little about prescription drugs. In recent years the DEA has assigned agents along with state and local officers to work exclusively with diversion investigators. Generally the least respected agent is assigned and in some cases the state and local police are park police. The use of “scare tactics” by DEA is easily observed in their press releases. The DEA should be closed down when Nixon was impeached.
    • Mr. CGrace
      I beg to differ that pharmacists have much say in this whatsoever, at least in the case of my pharmacy. McKesson has imposed such strict limits on the number of units of several controlled medications I can obtain each month, which is significantly fewer units than we were purchasing on average before, that we've had to make changes to our dispensing policy. So, if I can't get product, I can't sell product. Therefore, I've had to tighten the belt to keep the product I can get for my long term patients. I have to refuse to fill for any new patients, or be out of product by the second week of each month. If anyone can suggest a way for me to convert water into wine (or amoxicillin into percocet) please let me know, as that would make this current, obscene situation more tolerable. It's the DEA's fault 100% for scaring wholesalers into limiting the supply to pharmacies, and the wholesalers (at least McKesson's) fault for overreacting to what the DEA has set forth.
    • Anonymous
      Ditto on all points. My wholesaler is Cardinal, but the scenario is identical. DEA bullies and overreacting wholesalers leave pharmacies out in the cold.
    • Anonymous
      Go on a massive witch hunt against the pharmacists and wholesalers, who have nothing to do with how many Rxs are written, then blame them for following your new unwritten rules? Stay classy DEA.
    • Anonymous
      We've got doctors and patients threatening to sue if we don't fill the scripts, and regulators threatening to put us in jail if we do. Regulators have destroyed our profession.
    • Anonymous
      Insurance 3rd parties more so.
    • Anonymous
      It must be nice to sit in an office and blame the victims. The pharmacists are the victims. We don't write the prescriptions. We don't lie to the doctors to get the prescriptions. We just fill them. We have no real way of telling if the script is for a legit purpose or not, but somehow we are supposed to magically know. Gimme a break DEA. When you stop arresting and threatening arrest of pharmacists, and stop fining wholesalers, maybe we'll start erring on the side of helping the patient. Until then, I have a family to feed.
    • Anonymous
      I think there is an industry agreement with you. It is too bad that the DEA can not back up the pharmacist for doing a good job. Why do the pharmacist end up being the police man. We do this for a dispensing fee of 0.00 to 2.00. That is used up by $0.50 for the vial, $0.50 for the label, and $0.25 for the transmission. We should do ( make the efforts) of what we are paid. $0.00 to $2.00 worth. I think we are worth $6.00/min that means you should spend 20 seconds on screenings.
    • Anonymous
      Yep, things are out of control in GA, but not just the DEA. The state regulators are on a witch hunt. Anybody that fills a pain script here is crazy. I've had 'em come in crying too, but that's just the result of the regulator's policies.
    • Anonymous
      Heck the Third Party Insurance companies just step to the top of the pile.
    • Anonymous
      Heck the Third Party Insurance companies just step to the top of the pile.
    • Anonymous
      Heck, with them, the 3rd party insurance companys just stepped to the top of the pile.
    • RAFAELJUAREZ
      no body wants to stand up.. the dea says it is not them the wholesaler says it is the dea on them. mean while the INDEPENDENT PHARMACY gets short end of the stick . I agree there is an epidemic of narcotic use in AMERICA. it starts at the doctors office. wrinting for routinely Norco prescriptions. now there is a high demand , America is addicted.. dea has to come in and go after the doctors. wholesaler meanwhile cuts off the supply to the independent pharmacy while the BIG CHAIN STORES ARE NOT AFFECTED.. STAND UP AMERICA AND DO THE RIGHT THING. DOCTORS DO NOT GET PATIENTS ADDICTED. WHOLESALERS TREAT ALL ACCOUNTS EQUALLY DO NOT FAVOR THE BIG CHAIN STORES $$$$. PHARMACIST DO NOT HESITATE TO SAY NO WITH OUT FEAR OF LOSING YOUR JOB..
    • Anonymous
      BS !! The wholesalers are there to make money. They have no reason to limit sales to their customers. So if it quacks like a duck?? The DEA had to say something or imply that the wholesalers restrict sales or ELSE. See the increase prices for anything that says "OXY" on it !! Looks like thay got to the Manufacters too. Who suffers, the pharmacist that are caught in the middle and the patients !!!
    • John ScottClopton
      Its not just the DEA War on Drugs - it's our Rambo Law Enforcement who set up check points, speed traps, etc - that are just looking for a confrontation ... I see it everyday on my commute home. Most of the young law enforcement guys today are now driving unmarked cars that resemble race cars etc, they wear camouflage outfits - take me back to a time when law enforcement wore suits and ties and/or professional attire and were some of the most respected members of society - just like PHARMACIST used to be ....
    • Anonymous
      The ratio idea is so unfair. How am I supposed to control whether the doc writes for a controlled vs non-controlled? It would be one thing to run out because of a backorder, but to run out because of an "allotment" based on some unwritten DEA rule.....you're damned right I tell them it's the DEA's fault.
    • Anonymous
      Everybody I know.....and I mean everybody.....predicted this would happen. You can't go around threatening people and arresting people without scaring everyone out of filling pain meds. They have shown through their actions that they don't mind hurting innocent pharmacists to increase their arrest numbers.
    • Anonymous
      The DEA is squeezing the guys in the middle that have no say-so in whether a prescription is written. I guess that's easier than doing their job.
    • SteveAriens
      They are hiding behind The Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity ...that a citizen cannot sue the government without the government’s permission .. the DEA is failing miserably with the drug cartels.. they have got to show Congress some "progress" in the war on drugs.. when they go begging for bigger budgets. Shouldn't the Geneva convention apply here - about torturing prisoners of war - since all of these chronic pain pts are "prisoners" of the war on drugs.. As a society.. we go after other countries in human rights violation issues...but punish/torture our own innocent citizens without a second thought.. what a bunch of hypocrites ... Congress has allowed the DEA to work under the premise of guilty until proven innocent and they will financially ruin those who are "believed" to be doing something wrong.. even if that it is one mis-doing out of thousands of doing things correctly. No one can catch all those who will try to get a forged Rx passed us. As last I remember.. humans are imperfect.. and can sometimes be wrong.. I guess unless you work for the DEA.. then you are omnipotent...and infallible !
    • Anonymous
      They're not limiting the crackdown to questionable pharmacy practices. They are arresting pharmacists that should never be arrested. What a bunch of liars. They are reaping what they sow.
    • Anonymous
      Okay, I had an agent tell me that the only people that should ever take Percocet are cancer patients and that he will arrest anyone that fills prescriptions for someone that lives more than ten miles from the pharmacy. I'm in a rural area. I live more than ten miles from a pharmacy. That's just crazy.
    • Anonymous
      It's clear that the DEA are not doctors. And we're not the police or enforcers of the law. And if that's what they are then why don't they enforce some laws that are not ambiguous. I turn away prescriptions all the time, but give me a clear definition of an unnecessary prescription please.
    • Anonymous
      Anyone notice that everyone posting is anonymous? Intimidation? No question about it. The DEA has, indeed, gone off the deep end. They lie when they say they care. They tell us to use our professional skills when they really mean it's not our problem...deal with it. God forbid something happening to Mr. Payne's mother and needs an opiate. Let Mr. Payne visit store after store without success, all the time being treated like a drug addict by some in our profession. The DEA may be out of touch, but it is self-imposed. They don't want to get down in the trenches and fight crime. Just scare the supply chain. It's working a little too well.
    • Anonymous
      The DEA is not fooling anyone. Their strategy of cutting the supply from the top has worked to perfection to accomplish their goals. They don't care that people can't find their meds. The DEA bullies the wholesalers who in turn require retailers to limit purchases to some formula of controlled to non-controlled products. Go over this invisible line and you are cut off. I never heard about a "ratio" in school or the first 35 years of practice. It's not in the Controlled Substances Act. If the DEA isn't responsible for using the "ratio" concept to limit sales, who is? Rusty Payne should spend a few days in a typical independent pharmacy. Let him explain to the patients why the pharmacy can't order their meds because that would exceed their quota. As they say...............I was born at night, but not last night!
    • Anonymous
      I'm sorry, but there are in intended consequences to arresting pharmacists that are trying their best to do their job. The DEA has gone insane.
    • Anonymous
      With all due respect, he is either a liar or has no idea what's going on out there. The DEA and state arrested seven pharmacists in Georgia for filling legitimate prescriptions in 2011.....prescriptions that were being filled at dozens of pharmacies across the state, including dozens of chain stores. They were arrested even after seeking counsel from the GA Drugs and Narcotics Agency and also the Board of Pharmacy. As a result, many pharmacists implemented new policies the next week. You cannot go around arresting innocent pharmacists and not expect it to affect everyone. It is absolutely the fault of the DEA. Luckily for the pharmacists involved, the charges were thrown out, but not before the DEA stole their life's savings and ruined their reputation. Heck, even one of the agents was heard saying they knew the pharmacists would not be convicted, but their goal was to shut them down and make them spend all of their money on attorneys. One agent flat out lied to a grand jury. There is no limit to the dirty deeds the DEA will employ. As a result, cancer patients in GA are going without pain medicine. All of the time, I have patients come in on Friday crying because they can't get their medicine, but due to the insane unwritten rules, I can't help them. Way to go DEA.
    • Anonymous
      Absolutely correct on all points. It's the same, if not worse in Florida. I hope the DEA is proud of their accomplishments.
    • Anonymous
      This is classic DEA: Light the fire, and then claim innocence when things burn. Did they really believe that the heightened attention and scrutiny, threats of costly litigation and possible jail time wouldn't result in a higher threshold to approving Control Substance Scripts. Complete disregard for unintended consequences!
    • Anonymous
      I think the consequences were anticipated and intended. They deliberately affect the behavior of professionals in lieu of actually having to enforce the law by traditional methods. Their actions border on unconstitutional harassment. What happened to probable cause, equal protection, innocent until proven guilty? The DEA has filed it away and doesn't plan to bring it out again.