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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Oh Oxycodone

I don't know how to present this story. I have tried a few times but cannot seem to translate what I feel into actual words, which usually means the story won't be interesting. I'll try though.

It was a day that I wish HIPPA would go fuck itself so I could stop a nice person from being taken advantage of. It was also a day I wish I had a license to kill. I don't remember the last time I've felt such hatred towards anyone. Well, actually I do, but that story is irrelevant.

We got a prescription for Oxycodone for a patient that is a well-known addict. This guy is on all the lists; everyone is watching him. We called the doctor to let him know. He knew, but still prescribed it. There isn't anything else we can do, so we fill it.

After filling it, the patient calls in to ask if it's finished. We tell him it's finished, and ready for him to pick up. Ok, good, he says. Oh, and I was wondering if I could get a copy of the prescription?

Well, yes, we say, but we're going to have to write VOID or COPY on it.

Oh, really? So it won't look exactly the same?

No, we cannot give you an identical copy of the presciption. That would be illegal.

Oh, well how much is it then?

$62.79 (or something like that).

Now, this is where I start having a problem with this guy. He got his prescription. He convinced his doctor to give it to him. If he wants to roll on Oxycodone every day without hurting anyone that's his own business. But the fact that he wanted a copy of the prescription tells me that he isn't necessarily using it. He's probably selling it. Maybe he isn't, maybe he just wants to use more, but that's not what I think. It gets worse.

We get another phone call. This one is from a church. They were wondering if a certain patient has a prescription with us, and also if they could pay for it. It just so happens to be our Oxy patient. We tell them that yes, we do have a prescription for him, but it's pretty expensive, around $60.

"Oh, the price doesn't matter, we just want to help him."

Now that is a direct quote from the person on the phone. I'm sure he just told them that he really needed his medication but couldn't afford it. All I wanted to do was tell them not to do this, that this man was taking advantage of their kindness in the worst possible way. I wanted to throw HIPPA out the window and explain the situation, but I couldn't.

I felt dirty as some nice, kind, caring lady came in to my pharmacy and paid for this man's "needed" medication. Notice that I said a lady paid. The church didn't pay. The lady wrote a personal check for this guy's Oxycodone. She unknowingly fueled his addiction, all because she wanted to help someone, and there was nothing I could do. That didn't stop me from feeling dirty.

When the man came in to get his prescription. I walked to the back. I couldn't give him the prescription. I asked the pharmacist to do it. I stood in the back of the store while the anger inside me welled up past critical mass for the second time in my life as I watched the man smile as he received his monkey for free. I wanted hurt him. I wanted him to feel the pain he says he has. But in the end, he won't. He took advantage of the kindness of others.

And there was nothing I could do.


  1. I've had a similar thing happen in one of our stores. Kind of fills you with boiling rage does it not?

    I bet I can one up a bit here. One of our pharmacists will 'spot' certain customers half their Oxy order so they can 'go get money' and come back and pay the other half. Sometimes they just go out to the parking lot. Fun stuff eh?

  2. I'm sure there is a way to use tone-of-voice and certain word selection to give away that, hey, someone really shouldn't be paying for someone else's medication. It partially should have been the pharmacist's call anyway.

    My pharmacist actually turned a stranger away from paying a patient's copay on a control. The patient was told the price. They said they didn't have the money. They left. Five minutes later, a concerned woman came up to the counter saying someone was outside stating they couldn't pay for their medication. She was offering to help. The pharmacist immediately told her that, no, she doesn't want to do that. That's all that was said. HIPAA was not violated. The woman walked away. The pharmacist did have a word with the patient about begging right outside the store when the patient returned.

    I'm not deferring blaim to the pharmacist. I'm just saying your pharmacist has some power in all of this.