INDIANAPOLIS — A local doctor says his patients are finding some pharmacies are running into supply issues for opioid medication. As it turns out, the fix isn’t as easy as going to another pharmacy.
Dr. Vinay Belamkar is with the Apollo Pain Center. He is seeing his patients begin to pharmacy hop as a result of opioid medication stocking issues. He says certain pharmacies have rules against divulging opioid stock information over the phone. It’s left patients to blindly go store to store to see if they have their medication.
“Its one of the policies where they don’t want to tell how many pills, [because] they don’t know who is calling on the phone,” explained Dr. Belamkar.
In 2015, CVS Pharmacy begin storing opioid medication in time delayed safes. The measure was done to prevent thefts. The initiative began in Indianapolis. We reached out to CVS to ask about supply chain issues and to get a better understanding of their policies regarding stock information over the phone. The company is still working to get us answers.
Dr. Belamkar says prescriptions for opioids must be done electronically now. It also means patients can’t just take a prescription to another location. They must contact his office first. It is beginning to bog down their staff.
“There should be a process where I hope the vacuum is not filled by illicit drugs and uncontrolled street pharmacists,” said Dr. Belamkar. “We have had issues of opioid overuse in this country, and the opioid epidemic we are all aware of. As a profession we are being more responsible. That’s one of the focuses of this practice is solving the pain problem, so they don’t have to depend so much on opioids.”
With patients left to jump from pharmacy to pharmacy, Dr. Belamkar is worried that patients will begin hoarding pills or keeping a backup stock in case they can’t get the medication on time. He says some patients can deal with withdrawal symptoms.
“You develop a huge deal of tolerance,” explained Dr. Belamkar. “If you’ve never had coffee, the first few days you are buzzed, staying up all night, but after few weeks and months you do that, and you go to sleep. Opioids do that on a much higher level.”