The case really wasn’t surprising, given the times in which we live. But it was highly disappointing, to say the least.
I’m talking about the recent case of a Wauwatosa pharmacist, James Kobs, who was charged with 12 felonies in connection with prescription drug thefts. The criminal complaint accuses Kobs of stealing amphetamine salts, Oxycodone, morphine and dextroamphetamine. He pilfered more than 1,000 pills worth nearly $5,000 and he admitted to police that he had developed drug addictions.
Opiate addiction in Waukesha County, the state of Wisconsin and, indeed, the entire country is certainly explosive at this point in time. It’s been my experience that a very high percentage of these addicts start out with some type of prescription drug addiction. They are legitimately prescribed drugs such as Vicodin, Oxycodone and Oxycontin and it becomes habit forming. The problem only escalates from there.
Painkiller abuse has risen across the country. For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 million Americans said they were using opium-based pain relievers without a prescription in 2010.
How does a case like Kobs’ impact consumers in general? Simply put, it’s a red flag, something all of us need to bear in mind as we transact business with a pharmacy because we all rely on the trust factor that must exist between patient and pharmacist. That trust factor is the same as we have with our family physician.
Clearly, if you have scheduled drugs or narcotics being appropriately prescribed and discover that you’re not getting the appropriate amount of pills or dosage, you need to bring this to the attention of the pharmacy immediately. If you don’t get a satisfactory answer right away, don’t be afraid to bring it to the attention of law enforcement.
Obviously, a case like Kobs’ would be difficult for the average consumer to detect. Records were falsified and sales were voided, things that would be hard for outsiders to detect.
However, we all share the responsibility of making sure we are receiving only the medications we are prescribed and in their proper dosage. Paying attention and reporting irregularities to the pharmacy and, if necessary, to the police could result in bringing other abusers to justice.