Woman Says Pharmacist Refused to Give Her Veteran Dad His Prescribed Pain Meds — Is That Legal?

Jennifer Tisdale - Author

Oct. 6 2023, Published 6:13 p.m. ET

TikTok about pharmacist denying pain meds to veteran
Source: TikTok/@makenzie.marshall (video still)

A woman's father was denied his pain medication by a pharmacist

We live in a time where pain medication is tricky. There are both documentaries and fictionalized tellings of the damage done by Purdue Pharma as they pushed OxyContin onto the masses. It contributed to an opioid epidemic that ultimately led many people down a deeper addiction rabbit hole. Because of this, greater restrictions were put on narcotics even when those drugs were prescribed by a doctor.

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Who knows if this is why Makenzie Marshall's dad was denied pain medication by his pharmacist, despite the fact that he had a regular refill available. In a viral TikTok, she goes into detail about what her veteran father had to do in order to get the medication he needed to manage his pain. He lost his leg in combat and suffers on a daily basis. Here's what happened.

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This veteran was unable to get his pain medication from a pharmacist.

"My dad got blown up by a bomb in the military, and he takes pain medication," says Makenzie, who then launches into a pretty wild tale involving her local Walgreens. Makenzie's dad can refill his medication every 30 days but never knows what time it will be ready for pickup. Because of this, he was calling Walgreens ahead of a planned vacation to make sure it would be ready before they left.

After being reassured multiple times that his medication would in fact be ready, Makenzie and her father were able to breathe a sigh of relief. Sadly that didn't last. According to the pharmacist, the pain medication would be ready by 10:00 a.m. the day of their departure. "It was not ready by 10:00 a.m.," she said.

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When Makenzie's dad got to Walgreens, they informed him that they only had a low dosage version of his medication available. (As Adam Sandler said in The Wedding Singer, this is something that could have been brought to his attention YESTERDAY. Sorry, but Adam did scream at that part.)

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The pharmacist needed permission from Makenzie's dad's doctor for this new dosage, so he was instructed to call his doctor and get a new prescription. Here's more bad news, says Makenzie: "My dad's doctor isn't open on Fridays."

"Trip gets pushed back, that's fine," said Makenzie, who said the new departure was Monday.

Thankfully Makenzie's dad's doctor got on the horn pretty early on Monday to let him know the prescription was filled. He'd just have to take more medication because of the aforementioned lower dosage. This is good math.

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The Walgreen app sent him a notification letting him know the prescription was ready, so back to the pharmacy he went. Surely nothing else could go wrong? "Yeah, there was a problem with the medicine," said the pharmacist to Makenzie's dad. "Well get back to you, just have a seat over there."

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Four hours later, Makenzie's dad was still waiting at Walgreens. (I get bored when a pharmacist tells me I have to wait 20 minutes. There are only so many times I can try on sunglasses and contemplate buying weird candy. I don't know what I would do for four hours. This man is amazing.)

"Finally he gets up and goes 'What's going on because I was supposed to be on the road now,'" Mackenize recalled of her dad saying to the Walgreens pharmacist. Looking him up and down, the pharmacist told her dad, "I just think it's really way too excessive for you. You really don't need this much."

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At this point all that was left to do was call his doctor again, which resulted in Makenzie's dad's doctor arguing with this pharmacist. "She absolutely refused to fill it," shared Makenzie. After all was said and done, the pharmacist tried to lay the blame at her dad's doctor's feet, but ultimately it didn't matter. He called in the prescription to another Walgreens who filled it in a few hours.

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Can a pharmacist legally deny a person their prescribed medication?

In the case of Makenzie's father, he is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act which is modeled after the Civil Rights Act of 1964, per Drug Topics. From what Makenzie said, this pharmacist unilaterally decided that the dosage was too high which is a legitimate reason to refuse medication. This action violated Makenzie's dad's civil rights.

In order to lodge a complaint, Makenzie's dad has to file a grievance with these government agencies: The National Association of Boards Pharmacy as well as the The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services which deals with medical licensing and HIPAA violations. Makenzie will not need an attorney to do this.

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