Tampa anesthesiologist Dr. Rafael Miguel helped lead the fight against a surging prescription drug abuse crisis in Florida.
As vice chair of the state’s Board of Medicine, Miguel called for legislative change to stem the flow of drugs that led to thousands of overdose deaths each year.
Eventually, people listened.
Laws tightened. Police stepped up enforcement. And deaths declined by 23 percent from 2010 to 2012.
Miguel now is in a different drug battle — one for more access to narcotics, not less.
The obstacle, Miguel and other doctors report, are pharmacies that are increasingly second-guessing them, asking to see medical records or refusing service.
“They call us sometimes and ask if (a prescription) is medically necessary,” said Miguel, 59, who has a Brandon clinic and teaches pain medicine at the University of South Florida. “Well, if I write a prescription and it’s got my DEA number and my signature on it, what do you think, I’m joking around?”
The tightening by drugstores comes after the Drug Enforcement Administration imposed record fines on pharmacies based on allegations they weren’t scrutinizing questionable prescriptions. Some companies that supply the drugs have been fined, too.