End of life CANCER PT… opiates not medically necessary ?

Cancer patient turned away at pharmacies


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Turned away at the pharmacy. So many of you have called and emailed First Coast News about being denied medication. Tonight a cancer patient, who is a retired pain management doctor, is speaking out saying enough is enough.

“More than once I thought this is not worth it and just give up. My time is limited. Am I going to go through this every month?,” said Dr. Gary Welch.

Welch is battling advanced stage 3 pancreatic cancer, one of the most painful cancers.

“It’s like rats chewing on your intestine. That’s the best way I can describe it.

The father of 6 and grandfather of 12 got the shocking diagnosis in 2013.

“Pancreatic cancer for most people is a death sentence. Simple as that. The question is how long. 50 percent die in a year. All my family came in on Thanksgiving in 2013. I didn’t think I’d see them in 2014 for Thanksgiving.”

After two rounds of chemotherapy Welch, a retired doctor and army colonel who now lives in Port Charlotte, Florida is in Jacksonville for proton therapy. He says it was either that or go to hospice care.

His oncologist has prescribed him opioids including a Fentanyl patch.

“I’m essentially pain free with the patch,” said Welch.

But getting a refill has become a nightmare. He says he has been made to feel like he is a substance abuser.

This week he says he went to a Jacksonville pharmacy with his prescription only to be told back to come back the next day, and again the next day and the next day.

“If you go in to get your pain medicine you are made to feel like you are a common criminal… I just don’t think the pharmacy should put the burden on the patient. You are guilty until you prove otherwise. You are a substance abuser until you can prove otherwise.”

By the time he finally got his prescription filled he had already run out of patches.

“I’ve had that happen at three pharmacies. Somebody would call and say it’s ready. I’d go to pick it up, and I get there and it’s not ready and I say they called me it’s ready. Oh well, nobody left a message for us so you we can’t help you. You will have to come back,” recounted Welch.

Welch is resigned to rise above this broken system and use his precious remaining time to ease the pain of those who come after him

“I would like to make a difference so patients who need the drugs get them in a timely fashion and are treated like patients and not like criminals,” said Welch.

“The DEA recommends, when legitimate patients have problems getting their prescriptions filled at a pharmacy, the patients should ask to speak with the pharmacist on duty if they are dealing with a pharmacy technician. The pharmacy technician may not have the proper training and experience to make a professional judgment. If the pharmacist is not able to help, then patients should ask to speak with the pharmacy manager to find out why their prescriptions are being denied and ask about their policy on filling or denying prescriptions. Legitimate patients have a right to know why their prescriptions are being denied. The pharmacy should be held accountable for their decision not to fill a prescription and stop using the DEA as a convenient excuse to refuse service.

DEA also recommends that legitimate patients who are unable to have their prescriptions filled notify their doctors and their state pharmacy board.”

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