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Walgreens, OxyContin Profits, Ethical Responsibility and the DEAMarianne Skolek Salem-News.com
Shame on you Walgreens -- you are no better than the pill mills operating in Florida that are destroying lives every day.
(MYRTLE BEACH SC) - Recently the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) accused the pharmacy chain, Walgreens with "endangering public safety" and prevented Walgreens from shipping OxyContin and other dangerous painkillers from their Jupiter, Florida distribution center.
The pharmacy we trust with our family's prescriptions being charged with endangering public safety -- why? Surely no pharmacy chain would ever jeopardize the safety of their customers, or would they?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there is an epidemic in this country of prescription narcotic abuse resulting in overdose deaths. But Walgreens having their name tarnished, how?
The DEA says Walgreens failed to keep necessary controls to ensure it did not dispense dangerous drugs to addicts and drug dealers. When there is an impressive increase in the sale of narcotics it sends a red flag to the DEA that fake prescriptions are being presented to a pharmacy. The addicts and dealers often get the prescriptions from clinics, known as "pill mills," where doctors prescribe the drugs with virtually no medical history being obtained from the "patient." Actually there is no interest in obtaining a medical history -- it is a "cash and carry" transaction. Give the pill mill doctor the cash and carry out your drug of choice. But Walgreens?
The DEA has reported that six of Walgreens' Florida pharmacies ordered more than one million OxyContin pills a year. To put this in the proper prospective, in 2011 the average pharmacy in the U.S. ordered 73,000 OxyContin pills a year.
One Walgreens pharmacy in Fort Myers, Florida went from ordering 95,800 pills in 2009 to 2.2 million pills in 2011, the DEA reported. Another Walgreens pharmacy in Hudson, a town of 34,000 people near Clearwater, purchased 2.2 million pills in 2011 -- also according to the DEA.
All DEA licensees "have an obligation to ensure that medications are getting into the hands of legitimate patients," said Mark Trouville, DEA special agent in charge of the Miami Field Division. "When they choose to look the other way, patients suffer and drug dealers prosper."
The Jupiter facility, one of 12 distribution centers owned by the Walgreens Corp., distributes controlled substances to Walgreens pharmacies on the East Coast, including Florida.
Since 2009, Walgreens Jupiter, Florida facility has been the single largest distributor of OxyContin in Florida, the DEA said. Over the past three years, its market share has increased, and 52 Walgreens are among the top 100 OxyContin purchasers in the state, the DEA said.
A major function of the DEA is something called Suspicious Order Monitoring (SOM) which monitors buying patterns which means pharmacies such as Walgreens confirm the following, or the DEA is at their door:
"We are, as a distributor and manufacturer, responsible for our entire downstream. We have to know who we sell to, who they sell to, basically until it gets to the end user. There are many ways to monitor that. But we have a system that checks for spikes in order patterns, changes in order patterns. If a customer orders way more this week than they did last week, we have to call them out and get a reason. If the reason is not good, we actually report the order to the DEA. We also have to know our customer. We have to visit them and make sure they are compliant, they are doing the right thing, they are doing the same thing we are doing, they check who they sell to. It's just a lot at stake."
It appears that the distributor and manufacturer of OxyContin continued shipping huge quantities of OxyContin to Walgreens in Florida until Walgreens got the attention of the DEA. I'm curious as to how long this shipping of huge quantities of OxyContin was sent to Walgreens before the DEA stepped in. It appears to answer the question of why Florida is the leading state in the operation of pill mills. But why wasn't the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma manufacturing these huge quantities of a lethal drug red flagged by the DEA and charged?
Back in 2008, I sent the below email to then President Jeffrey Rein concerning the number of robberies of Walgreens for dangerous narcotics: Mr. Rein -- I have been actively exposing Purdue Pharma for the past 5-1/2 years after losing my 29 year old daughter Jill to prescribed OxyContin in 2002. I was fortunate in being given the opportunity to make an impact statement at the sentencing of the three CEO's of Purdue Pharma - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim. They wereall charged - and pled guilty to criminally marketing OxyContin to physicians and patients as less likely to be addictive or abused. U.S. Attorney John Brownlee who charged them criminally asked that I make an impact statement because of my work against Purdue Pharma. I also was asked by Senators Patrick Leahy and Arlen Specter to address the U.S. Senate in July 2007 about the criminal conviction of these individuals and Purdue Pharma. My work is not over. Our country has been dealing with an epidemic of OxyContin addictions and death because of the criminal activity of Purdue Pharma. In the interest of the safety of your employees in view of the break-ins and robberies of pharmacies by individuals hopelessly addicted to OxyContin, I would like to request that your pharmacy not carry OxyContin. Your action may save the life of one or more of your employees. If OxyContin were only available by prescription at hospitals -- where there is police presence as well as an impressive security backup, individuals prescribed OxyContin could still obtain it, but in the safety of a hospital setting. I would ask that you consider this request and if you wish to speak with me, please do not hesitate to call me. Thank you for reading this. Sincerely,
I received the following reply from Jeffrey Rein which also resulted in a telephone conversation with him. Mr. Rein has since retired as President of Walgreens:
Hello Marianne........I am sorry to hear about your daughter. I wanted to let you know I received your email and will get back to you........Jeffrey Rein
After becoming completely disillusioned with Walgreens as a result of the DEA charges against them -- and the outrageous amounts of OxyContin in their stores, I sent the following email to the current President of Walgreens, Gregory Wasson:
Mr. Wasson -- below is an email (see above) I received from then president, Jeffrey Rein in reply to my below email in 2008. We also had a lengthy telephone conversation about the dangers of OxyContin and precautions in storage that Walgreens was considering. I am very concerned with the recent news about the DEA investigation of the amount of OxyContin that your pharmacies houses. Would be interested in a response from you. Marianne Skolek
I never did receive a response from Mr. Wasson, but I do know there are hundreds of thousands of families throughout the country dealing with OxyContin in death and addiction who will think twice before walking through the doors of Walgreens again. Endangering public safety? Shame on you Walgreens -- you are no better than the pill mills operating in Florida that are destroying lives every day.
Please be aware that your voice can be heard in Washington, DC
HELP CHANGE THE FUTURE OF THIS COUNTRY!
On October 29, 2012 (Monday) "Save the Michaels of the World" is planning a protest in Washington, DC at the FDA building. This is an opportunity to let the Federal agency that is supposed to protect us know what a lousy job they are doing. We need your help. Join us in Washington. Together we can change the future of this country!
FDA White Oak Campus
The Great Room (Rm. 1503)
White Oak Conference Center
10903 New Hampshire Avenue
Silver Spring, Maryland
Go to the Facebook page - Save the Michaels of the World - Join this organization fighting for change in an effort to save lives in this epidemic of drugs
LP - Roses are red -- you know the rest cause you are the best and we walk side by side on a journey of faith and love. I never tire of saying I cherish you and the love you show me every minute of every day.
Marianne Skolek https://twitter.com/
Investigative Reporter for Salem-News.com
Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma - a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company
_______________________________________Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.
Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
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