Tipline: Prescription Drug Crackdown Leads To Suicides
Updated On: Feb 13 2014 01:55:06 AM CST
We have a follow up report to one of our Tipline investigations.
In July, we exposed how the nation's largest pharmaceutical companies cut-off, without warning, the supply of pain medications to sick people all across the country.
NewsChannel 3 Reporter C.J. Ward learned that some people from the Santa Maria area died in the months that followed.
Scott Guess owns Pain Management Pharmacy in Santa maria. He said pharmaceutical manufacturer, McKesson, stopped all of his drug shipments without warning and without giving a reason last June.
His customers, some of them cancer patients, had no where else to go to get their pain medications.
"Unfortunately, we did hear of three deaths. Two of them are confirmed suicides because they couldn't get their meds." said Guess as he filled a customer's order.
Guess said the same tragedies are being repeated all over the country.
One of his customers who almost died, but pulled through, is James Biliardi.
Biliardi suffers from Huntington's Disease, a painful disorder that affects muscles and the brain.
"I never thought it would go from bad to worse so quickly," said Biliardi.
His mother and caregiver, Melissa Biliardi, said they found new doctors willing to help James survive his terrifying seizures and deal with the pain.
The Biliardi's and Scott Guess blame the Drug Enforcement Agency or the DEA for everything they have gone through since last June.
"The way it was done was just so devastating and so cruel to him. just a lot of suffering." said Melissa Biliardi.
They believe the DEA is using intense political pressure against pharmaceutical companies to take the pills off the street and stop those who abuse prescription drugs.
DEA officials have denied those allegations during interviews with NewsChannel 3.
The feds slapped Walgreen drug store chain with an $80 million fine last year and no pharmaceutical manufacturer wants to be next headline.
But, Biliardi believes innocent people like her son are the ones paying the price.
"What this crackdown has done is, it's forced people to go back to the streets. It's forced them to go back to illicit medications because they can't get their medications. So, we have heroin overdoses, we have suicides," said Biliardi.
The crackdown almost put Scott Guess out of business. He found another supplier who figured out he is one of the good guys. Guess is now fighting to change the laws by supporting House Bill 3392.
"Which is a bill to establish a network of safe pharmacies that Medicare Part-D recipients can go to still be able to get service for their controlled substances," said Guess.
Guess is also working with the California Board of Pharmacy to change the system here. he also plans to ask Congresswoman Lois Capps for her support. But Guess knows he has a long road ahead.
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