We've all heard about the Opioid epidemic, but is it affecting the supply of prescribed narcotics here in West Michigan?
A local viewer thinks so, and he asked us to investigate.
The Muskegon resident says he has been on Norco for the past three years for chronic pain. He's never had a problem getting it, until now. He says he went to every Walgreens and CVS in his area but none had it.
He ended up driving 20 miles away to another pharmacy to get it.
Here's what we could find out: there does not appear to be an overall shortage. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, who keep track of the amount used and sold in the United States, drug manufacturers are not cutting back on production.
The supply likely has to do with companies, like Walgreens or CVS, who keep a close eye on how much they allow pharmacies to hand out in certain areas.
In 2013, to make sure that there was enough supply, the DEA actually increased the quotas for opioids by 25 percent. But three years later, the numbers showed none of the manufacturers had used the extra amount.
So, for 2017, the DEA decreased the quota by that same 25 percent.
DEA Spokesperson Barbara Carreno says, "Everyone is trying to do their best, including the DEA to make sure that patients have what the need, without an oversupply that can be stolen or diverted to the streets for illicit sales.
"It's a balancing act to have enough, but not too much."
The DEA says the number of scripts being written for Hydrocodone is down. The reasons given are it requires more paper work for doctors and because of the increased awareness about the potential dangers of opioid use.
However, it is still the No. 1 prescribed drug in the United States.
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