Pill suppliers' restrictions mean some TN customers turned away - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Pill suppliers' restrictions mean some TN customers turned away

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MANCHESTER, TN (WSMV) -

It's no secret Tennessee has a pill problem, but a new plan to prevent prescription drug abuse could affect your next trip to the pharmacy.

Big pill suppliers are now putting quotas on some pharmacies, and at least one area pharmacy is already having to turn some customers away.

At Marcrom's Pharmacy in Manchester, they've had to turn away so many people, one pharmacist says they've lost count.

When it comes to certain drugs, Marcrom's is sold out, and some of their suppliers now refuse to replenish the stock.

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, drug companies and suppliers are now taking it upon themselves to determine which pharmacies are selling too much of controlled substances. When a pharmacy reaches its quota, the companies are essentially cutting the pharmacies off.

"They're going to go into an area, and they're going to figure out how many pharmacies are there - what's the population base, is there a reason a pharmacy should be filling so many more oxycodones as opposed to a lower scheduled controlled substance - and they're going to make that determination," said DEA Special Agent Michael Stanfield.

Stanfield says the idea is to cut down on the state's biggest drug problem.

"The prescription pill problem is an epidemic right now, and we have to address it. We can not keep functioning the way we have in the past," he said.

Channel 4 News spoke to at least a dozen pharmacists on the phone who are all unhappy about the change but too afraid to go on camera for fear of upsetting the drug companies and the DEA.

Their main concerns include losing business, like they are at Marcrom's, and not being able to help customers get what they need.

"It's really not having a negative effect on the customers other than they may have to drive a little bit further to get their prescriptions filled," Stanfield.

Some customers don't exactly agree.

The pill suppliers are doing this in an effort to avoid fines from the DEA, which has become known for fining suppliers millions of dollars for not doing their due diligence and for selling too many pills to pharmacies that frequently allow prescription drugs to get into the wrong hands.

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