Some local people who honestly need medications to manage chronic pain are being denied that help because of Florida’s war on pill mills.
Because so many people have abused narcotics in recent years, some of the people who legitimately suffer from chronic pain say they're being denied the medicine they need.
A Pinellas Park woman says it's time pharmacies stop treating her like an addict and allow her to use her insurance to buy the only thing that allows her to function.
“Look at me. I didn't ask to be like this,” said Kimberly Samuels, showing her limp arm dangling by her side.
A broken armed followed by a botched surgery nine years ago turned Kimberly Samuel's life from normal to one filled with daily pain.
She became paralyzed from the neck down immediately following the surgery, which left her on lay support for a period of time and resulted in a condition called Syringomyelia.
She now takes 180 Oxycodone pills and another 180 Methadone pills each month to function.
DEA. crack downs in Florida eventually led Samuels to get her medicine by mail order, but that changed.
“I had to see a face-to-face pharmacist. That's all they could tell me. They no longer are going to send narcotic medications to Florida,” Samuels said.
When she tried to find the drugs she needed at most pharmacies, she could not.
Certain narcotics are only allowed to be shipped to pharmacies in limited supplies.
“You just have to go from pharmacy to pharmacy to try to find it and sometimes that's overwhelming,” Samuels said.
To get the medicine she needs on a consistent basis, Samuels says she can no longer use her insurance but has to pay with cash.
That costs her $1,800 per month.
Tampa pharmacist Mike Pissourios says his pharmacy always accepts insurance, but some pharmacies don't. They can mark-up narcotic drugs 1,000 percent or more on cash transactions.
He says he only fills pain prescriptions for regular customers because of tighter rules.
“They turn to tears, but if I don't have a relationship with them, I'd rather not fill,” Pissourios said.
Samuels says she is going broke buying the medicine she needs.
“It's not gonna happen much longer. I'm not gonna be able to pay for it, and I don't know what I'm gonna do,” she said.
And she doesn't believe she's alone.
“I honestly don't know the answer, but it's wrong for people who are in pain to get denied their medicine,” Samuels said.
Pharmacists say they would like to see clearer guidelines for pain treatment adopted by the American Medical Association so they could better determine who really needs pain medication.