Recovering addict says Walgreens pharmacist denied to fill Rx that helps her stay sober

Recovering addict says Walgreens pharmacist denied to fill Rx that helps her stay sober (WKEF/WRGT)

KETTERING, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - A young woman in recovery came to FOX 45 for help after she said a pharmacist denied to fill her prescription for the medicine that helps her maintain her sobriety.

April Erion told FOX 45 it’s a generic form of the medicine Suboxone, and that the incident happened at the Walgreens store on Far Hills Avenue in Kettering.

Erion told FOX 45's Kelly May she went to Walgreens because it’s the only pharmacy that carries the generic that works for her.

A Walgreens spokesperson confirmed to FOX 45 that filling a prescription is at the discretion of the pharmacist.

"I needed a specific generic brand- my pharmacy does not carry the brand that I need so I went to the closest one to my doctor," Erion said.

Erion said she had a paper prescription from her doctor in hand when she went to the store.

She said the medicine made by Actavis stops her from craving opiates.

She has been in recovery from her opiate addiction for more than a year.

"I even asked if they had it in stock because I wanted to be prepared if they didn't," Erion said about her conversation with the pharmacy technician, "She said, 'Oh, it's fine, we have plenty. I can get the pharmacist fill it for you right now'."

"The pharmacist came over and she basically just said you don't live in this area code-in this zip code, so it's my personal policy to not fill these kinds of medications for people that live outside the zip code."

Erion said she was embarrassed and felt discriminated against because of the type of medicine she needed.

"What if it were your child trying to get a medication that they needed, doing everything that they're supposed to be doing, doing everything they need to be doing to stay out of a casket," Erion explained, "and turn them away because they live in another zip code and its 'that medication, 'those kinds' of medications.

Erion said the form of generic Suboxone that Walgreens carries is the only generic form that dissolves adequately, and is covered by her Medicaid.

Prior to being prescribed the Actavis generic, she said she had been paying more than $300 each month out of pocket for brand name Suboxone strips at another pharmacy chain.

"Her discretion is discriminating against an entire class of people and she just assumes that anyone taking an opiate based medication is just a drug addict and she doesn’t want to help them?" an upset Erion explained.

FOX 45 reached out to Walgreens about the incident.

A spokesperson did not give a specific reason why Erion's prescription was not filled, but released a statement:

"Our pharmacists exercise professional judgement when dispensing prescriptions. We work to ensure that our patients continue to have access to the medications they need while fulfilling our role in reducing potential abuse and misuse of controlled substances."

Erion said she's aware that pharmacists are allowed to use discretion when filling prescriptions, but said, "There's going to be things that don’t look right, you don’t want to fill a prescription that you're not sure about, if you need them to come back, to come back later all these things that they use their discretion for. What you don't use your discretion for is to discriminate against an entire class of people in the middle of an opiate epidemic."

Erion said she was able to get her prescription filled at another Walgreens location.

Fox 45 asked the pharmacy chain if the incident was being discussed with the pharmacist involved, but they did not give an answer.

In the state of Ohio, there are discretions that pharmacists are legally protected to use. To see those rules, click here.

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