Suing Pharmacists

Suing Pharmacists
By: Wendy Ray

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO --It's a ruling that could have a major affect on pharmacies across the nation. A

Florida appeals court ruled the family of a woman who died from a drug overdose can go forward with a lawsuit against two pharmacies. B
oth are accused of mishandling her prescriptions for three addictive painkillers. T
he court ruled a pharmacist has a duty to warn a customer of the risks of filling a medications. So what do Heartland pharmacists think about this? Sarah Mirgaux and Ben Tally agree they are the last link to getting medication to a patient, so if something wrong is not caught by them it's not going to be caught.
Mirgaux sees hundreds of prescriptions a day at the Healing Arts Pharmacy in Cape Girardeau. She says it's her responsibility to know if what she's giving a patient is what they need. "As a pharmacist I have the ability to track and refuse to fill a prescription that ethically, I don't feel is necessary. You have to look into whether or not the medication is safe, that drug interactions don't occur, that duplication of therapy doesn't occur, and that it won't harm the patient," Mirgaux says.

Mirgaux does that with every prescription, but it's prescriptions for the painkillers Oxycontin, Percocet, and Diazepam that are getting all the attention in Florida. Two pharmacies there may be sued because a woman died of a drug overdose after her prescriptions for these drugs were filled. Pharmacist Ben Tally says pain medications are different than others because extent of pain is hard to diagnose. "Because pain is subjective," Tally says. "There's no way for you to know if someone has something."

Even so, a pharmacist in Florida allegedly gave the woman a 30 day prescription of a painkiller just four days after she had just received a 30 day supply. Tally says all pharmacies are tied into a third party network and if this indeed did happen, it should have risen a red flag on the computer. "If it was filled four days later, a 30 day supply or something like that, they should have said no, there is no way this is going to work," Tally says.

Both pharmacists say there are a lot of questions still unanswered in the Florida case. It's questionable why the woman was on three pain medications in the first place.