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Aug 23, 2013 8:52 PM by Nathan O'Neal

CVS Pharmacies cracking down on pain meds

TUCSON - A controversial new move by CVS Pharmacies looks to curb the nationwide abuse of pain killer prescriptions but is garnering some criticism from patients who rely on the medication.

CVS Pharmacies are taking a closer look at its databases in hopes of identifying doctors who prescribe pain killers at an "alarming rate" and subsequently cut off their access to them.

Maria Hass's entire life revolves around ice packs, splints and ace bandages, having ruptured her ligaments in her wrists. She's on the verge of her 13th surgery but currently depends on pain medication to live her life.

She's worried about the countless patients like her who could be impacted by CVS's decision to crack down on doctors with an extreme history of prescribing high risk drugs.

"I get why there would be a list of doctors because there are crappy pain doctors - I understand that if you go in there with cash you can get whatever you want - but even a doctor like that can have a patient like me," Hass told News 4 Tucson.

CVS identified 36 doctors nationwide as problematic. The company no longer allows those doctors to have their prescriptions filled at their locations. This is part of a large-scale movement to combat the abuse of pain medications - including opioids - that has taken over the country.

"As a pharmacist myself, when we take the oath and we become licensed we have an ethical and legal obligation to make sure that any prescription we fill is being used for a legitimate medical purpose and is appropriate for being dispensed," said Papatya Tankut, the Vice President of Pharmacy Affairs at CVS Caremark.

Another national chain, Walgreens, has also shifted focus to the effort to prevent prescription drug abuse. The company currently has a "good faith dispensing policy" but the details of that have not been made public.

As for Maria, she says this whole decision is a slippery slope and especially unsettling.

"I get that this is a nationwide epidemic... but I can't believe that no one thought this through to not affect us," Haas said.

The physicians affected by this recent move are scattered all across the U.S. with no specific region standing out.

According to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, prescription drug overdose is the second-leading cause of accidental death in the country.

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