Doctors prescribed a Texas woman a strong narcotic after she shattered her knee in Haiti. And then . . .
“They gave me a pretty high, heavy duty narcotic, Norco, as a painkiller going forward and I had used that up. It had been a month and I had called for my refill,” Lenhart said.
The pharmacy called Lenhart to ask her exactly what time she would be in pick up her prescription. She thought it was odd, but told the pharmacy what time she would be there.
Still on crutches and unable to drive, a friend of Lenhart’s, drove her to a CVS Pharmacy in Oak Cliff.
She wasn’t able to pick up her prescription because a police officer arrived to pick her up.
“He was like ‘we need to go outside,’” she said. “I was on crutches and I had a permanent IV line in my arm. I had a big leg brace. I asked him if it was necessary and he said yes and he rather policingly escorted me out the front door and into the back of a waiting patrol car.”
Lenhart was so stunned, she didn’t think to ask the officer questions. The officer explained to her what was going on.
“He said, ‘Well we believe that you have forged your pain pill prescription and we are calling your doctor now. But I’ve worked with this pharmacist a number of times and he’s never made a mistake,” Lenhart said.
The officer then took her the Dallas County jail, where she remained overnight. After she was released on bond, she was charged with obtaining a controlled substance by fraud, a felony.
“I couldn’t go back to work until HR had received the paperwork that this was a mistake from my attorney,” she said.
Dallas police later dropped the charges after speaking with Lenhart’s doctor.
These idiots couldn’t even bother to call the woman’s doctor before tossing her in a jail cell.
Lenhart’s story has been making its way around the web the past few days, and has been generating the appropriate outrage. But it shouldn’t be all that surprising. This is the perfectly predictable outcome of all this painkiller hysteria of late. It’s bad enough coming from the usual drug warriors. But because there’s a big evil pharmaceutical corporation to play the villain, we now get progressive outlets like ProPublica, and Alternet and Salon spitting out the government’s hype without the least bit of skepticism—or concern for pain patients.
You can’t really blame the pharmacist, here. She risks arrest and criminal prosecution if some overeager prosecutor looking to make a name for himself decides she hasn’t been sufficiently suspicious of her customers. Think about that. The government will now throw you in jail for failing to be suspicious enough of your fellow citizens. (And not just with painkillers — remember this monstrous injustice?)
Don’t blame her employer, either. The DEA recently shut down two CVS stores in Florida because federal drug cops thought the stores should have been turning away more people who came to fill pain medication prescriptions. Not only that, the agencies also attempted to shut down the wholesaler who supplies those stores for not being sufficiently suspicious of them, a move that would have left thousands of patients in several states without access to the medication they need.
The government has created a poisonous, paranoid atmosphere in which every player in the painkiller process from manufacturer to patient has been deputized to police every other player, to the point where anyone who doesn’t continually question the motives and actions of everyone else risks losing his livelihood, or even his freedom.
But Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske personally assures me that none of this hysteria is affecting patients. People suffering from pain and conscientious doctors have nothing to worry about, Kerlikowski promises. Just trust him on this one.
Yeah, so tell that to Anne Lenhart. Or to the desperate pain patients who have been emailing me since the most recent doctor went down.