In a move that could set a nationwide precedent, CVS recently sent letters to a group of high-prescribing Florida doctors advising them that the company’s pharmacies will no longer fill their prescriptions for painkillers and other dangerous drugs. According to the Orlando Sentinel, the action has been described as blacklisting by some of the doctors and at least one doctor who received a letter has responded with legal action against CVS.
In a prepared statement, CVS stated that it informed a small group of Florida doctors that their prescriptions for Schedule II narcotics will no longer be filled. The company was not specific about how many doctors have been notified but stated that the action was taken in the interest of keeping controlled substances out of the wrong hands and preventing drug abuse. CVS operates more than 700 pharmacies in Florida.
Due to a lack of prescription regulation in Florida, pain clinics have sprouted up throughout the state that freely dispense prescriptions for addictive prescription drugs like oxycodone (OxyContin) and hydrocodone (Vicodin). Drug abusers and dealers from the eastern portion of the U.S. converge on Florida for easy access to prescription drugs. Out of the top 100 doctors who wrote the most prescriptions for oxycodone in 2010, 90 were from Florida.
Florida law enforcement has targeted gangs of drug dealers who obtain prescriptions from pain clinics and sell prescription drugs on the street, but this the first action that a major pharmacy chain has taken to combat the prescription drug problem.
The Sentinel obtained a list of doctors who received letters from CVS and reports that many doctors on the list are already facing criminal charges for prescribing drugs for non-medical reasons. The Florida Department of Health has also recommended that some of the doctors have their medical licenses suspended or revoked because of unethical practices.
One of the doctors, Riyaz Jummani, is accused of prescribing more oxycodone in the first quarter of 2010 that all of the doctors in California during the same period.
Orlando attorney Gus Benitez, who represents a doctor who is suing CVS for defamation of character, told the Sentinel that CVS should focus on making a profit rather than on cutting sales by limiting prescriptions for addictive drugs. Benitez’s client, Dr. Sylvester Hanna, owns a pain clinic in Orlando.