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Sep-23-2012 12:11printcomments

Walgreens, OxyContin Profits, Ethical Responsibility and the DEA

Shame on you Walgreens -- you are no better than the pill mills operating in Florida that are destroying lives every day.

Walgreens and Oxycontin sales
Courtesy: topnews.net.nz

(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,
Marianne Skolek

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
Building 31
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.
Investigative Reporter for Salem-News.com
Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma - a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company
908-285-1232

_______________________________________
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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M. Dennis Paul, Ph.D. September 24, 2012 11:05 pm (Pacific time)

Florida is most definitely a problem state where Oxycontin is concerned.  It is, however, just one of many.  One answer to this problem is working with legislators to enact the same types of controls currently existing in many states.  These controls allow for proper prescribing (both long and short term) of narcotic medications so that individuals who require 24/7 meds are not discriminated against, rapid tracking of attempted multiple prescriptions (doc shopping and stolen pads), rapid identification of any action out of the ordinary, pharmacy, patient and provider contracts, mandated education programs for both doctors and patients, 30 day consults with providers with random (and frequent) blood and urine assays, counseling and more.  This will not happen at the Federal level but it does at state level and it works very well. Not many know that it is the DEA that determines and approves the amounts of Oxycontin that circulate nationally.  I would not expect too much cooperation from a "Law Enforcement" group that historically has acted on its own behalf rather than the public's.  It's called "Job Security".  As for the CDC, if one actually knows how to interpret their reports, the real narcotic "epidemic" is Methadone where nearly 2/3 of all opioid related OD's and deaths derive.  It is a shame we don't see the same uproar for this as we do for Oxycontin.  Still, Oxycontin, while being a highly effective drug, is far too loosely prescribed in place of other medications (where alternate treatments fail)that are suitable and less prone to abuse.  Rational, reasonable, responsible and highly effective means exist to curtail the availability of excessive amounts of these meds while still allowing those of us who need to be properly prescribed and monitored. Having been an honorary member of ICSPP for many years (Up to the point in 2010 where Peter and Ginger severed all ties to the group after the row about Peter expressing his Republican religion on the Savage Nation radio show)and a long time campaigner against over and improper uses of neuroleptic meds and the "epidemic" prescribing of SSRI's (The drugs more responsible for suicides than any opioid), I am equally dismayed that this "epidemic" fails to receive the same uproar as Oxycontin.  Single-minded rallies, those that begin and end on one note only rapidly become monotonous and generally either fail or produce disastrous results in failing to look at and address the big picture.


anonymous September 24, 2012 11:23 am (Pacific time)

i have a completely different story. i was the victim of a crime. I was robbed at gunpoint and shot. The bullet severed my sciatic nerve and partly paralyzed my leg as well as leaving me in pain. chronically , all the time. It's been years now and there has been no better treatment for me than oxycotin. I don't "Dr shop" and i take my medication as my Rx. says. I never go to the Dr early with a story about running short this month. since oxycotin has become a news lead with stories about someone that didn't take their medicine as written or got them through illegitimate sources it has become harder and harder for me to fill my Rx.. I have a hard time getting around so running from pharmacy to pharmacy is a huge problem. Of course i feel for anyone that has lost a loved one to addiction and yes there are problems with our system distributing Rx. drugs. The question is what about people like me. I'm suffering without my medicine during these "crackdowns". We need to find a balance , yes. But it shouldn't be at the expense of legitimate people with real problems.


Anonymous September 23, 2012 4:28 pm (Pacific time)

See my comment on Tim's "20k to turn in" etc. Its the same people..Also, look up "eugenics" because those that control have eugenics for a religion..Of course, everyone has to die except "them" who are "superior"...Superior? look at the death, destruction, lies these people put out. They will actually tell you radiation and GMO food are good for you. They will say marijuana is bad, but oxycotin is good. People best wake up, and obama/romney "rombama" will not change a thing except continue the agenda.


Christian Petersen September 23, 2012 2:26 pm (Pacific time)

Wow I always am pleasantly surprised at how much effort these writers put into their stories. This one is another great example of how we can change the future directly through our work. Amazing report. You really traced it up to the big players in this. How scary that Walgreens may be responsible in some way for some of the biggest drug dealing on the planet. It just doesn't make sense to have the police out busting people and ruining their lives for a few pills, or tiny amounts of drugs at the same time they let the big boys continue the main supply unhindered in any way.

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