You can’t have that because I said so - Tucson Local Media: Columns

You can’t have that because I said so

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Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 4:00 am

I never thought the day would come when we’d walk into a pharmacy with a valid, doctor written prescription and have it summarily denied as a necessary medication “just because.” In the good old days which were most likely the last time you filled a prescription, the only qualifiers for securing your physician written prescription were a current insurance card, a fistful of cash or an approved credit or debit card. What went wrong with the system?

Like most of you, I rely on my doctor’s judgment when it comes to prescribing medications that are intended to improve my ability to function during the course of the day. I also understand that pharmacists have a far greater understanding of medications than most doctors, and I rely on them to advise me when a new medicine could have a potentially unfavorable interaction with one I’m already taking. I also ask for their advice about generics and over-the-counter options that could offer comparable benefits at a lower cost than the prescription type that’s manufactured under a specific brand name. I appreciate and respect their advice, but other than these issues, I can’t imagine much else I’d need or want to hear from one of the pharmacy folks.

However, I can think of one thing that’s definitely off limits for our conversational pleasure and that is whether or not they agree with my views of religion, birth control, stem cell research, and a host of other topics which now seem to be issues when denying the fulfillment of a valid prescription. They’re also unaware of my views on breast feeding in public or Oriental medicine practices, and as I see it, it’s none of their business or anyone else’s unless I choose to make it so.

The fact is, the above set of circumstances didn’t involve me, but it did happen to a friend of mine who became so livid about it that he made a long distance call to vent his frustration, and he doesn’t have free ‘any time’ minutes. Like many retirees, he also battles pain, has experienced his share of failed treatment options, and suffered through the myriad of side effects accompanying most prescription medications in route to finding the ones that proved to be moderately effective and tolerable for the long haul in treating his medical issues. The thought never crossed his mind about having his quality of life crutch kicked out from under him while standing in line at the pharmacy window, but that’s exactly what happened to him several weeks ago.

The pharmacy he’d been using for the past 10 years was conveniently located ten minutes from his home, accepted his insurance plan, routinely filled his prescriptions in a matter of minutes, and the list of accolades for their service goes on. And then, out of the clear blue, a new pharmacy manager arrived on the scene with an additional qualifier for determining the validity of a doctor written prescription: Moral efficacy. In other words, the pharmacist decided to take control of the customers’ medication decisions without their consent or right to appeal, at least not at that moment in time.

As we age, our bodies remind us during the process by invoking occasional aches and pains in places we can’t reach and may not be able to pronounce. Fortunately, we live during a time when medication can control the most common ailments, and often make the not so ordinary ones somewhat tolerable. However, when a perfect stranger steps in and upsets our pain management plan by imposing his or her personal belief system onto our quality of life, something has to be done – legally.

My buddy isn’t a big fan of lawyers, but in this case he found a pit bull who handles these ever increasing types of pharmaceutical/moral wrongdoing. In less than a week the ordeal was over, he won. Funny thing is, he didn’t ask for a monetary settlement which he may have received, merely the reestablishment of his former medication regime allowing him to get on with his life with minimal pain disruption. He did receive one unanticipated benefit; the problem pharmacist vanished.

I hope this scenario is never imposed on any of us, but if it is remember we have medical and legal rights at our disposal. Retirement can be painful enough at times during the daily course of it, but adding to the hurt isn’t a necessary part of the final hurrah.                   



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