Reclassifying Hydrocodone Won't Stop Shady Scripts

September 19, 2014
Jay Sochoka, RPh, BSPharm, CIP

Reclassifying hydrocodone will not stop the drug from being filled legitimately and sold illegally.

Twenty years ago, at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, I was taught to trust no one when it came to dispensing controlled substance prescriptions, especially for opiates like oxycodone and soon-to-be-reclassified hydrocodone. I was told to be suspicious of every patient, make sure all of my ducks were in a row on the hard copy, and never let a forgery go by.

As hard as you try, you get burned in this business. When I think of all the pharmaceutical garbage that has made it onto the street, due to a really good forgery passing me by, I literally want to cry.

A few days ago, it hit a new low for me. An individual brought in a prescription for 120 oxycodone 15 mg that was completely legitimate, but the person seemed way too polite. If you are trying to act like we are fraternity brothers when I have never met you before, then I don’t trust you. I could just smell the shadiness on this person.

The prescription was dated to be filled the next day. I was offered assurance that someone in the pharmacy knew this individual was going away the next day and said we would accommodate the situation by filling it. Strike two. A first-day cashier would know enough to never say that, or to punt the call to the pharmacist. The individual then left the pharmacy, taking back the script.

Lo and behold, the next afternoon, the same individual returned with a smile—and the script. Strike three. What was that about going away the next day?

So, this person stood in front of me with a big smile and a script so legitimate that if it were fake, they almost deserved to get it for the work put into perfecting the handwritten signature. I put it through the insurance, and no overuse warnings were returned from the insurance company. I felt a little more comfortable about filling the script, since cash is such a dead giveaway. After I filled it, the person—who still seemed shady to me—went away happily.

A few hours later, a hysterical mother called to tell me that the same shady person supposedly sold her child some of the tablets. I instantly felt queasy. I would have preferred a non-fatal misfill call over that, so I called the police and filed a report.

The next day, the mother called back saying her child had made up the whole thing and actually bought them from a friend who stole them from the kid’s mother. I did not believe her in the least, but I didn’t have a leg to stand on. How did that kid provide a name and know the pharmacy? Without a leg to stand on, I had to let it go.

I hate the thought of having this happen again, yet it will. Reclassifying hydrocodone will not stop the drug from being filled legitimately and sold illegally. As the late O.J. Simpson defender Johnny Cochrane would have said, “If the script’s legit, you must fill it.”

Jay Sochoka, RPh, is feeling sick over this.