As overdose deaths soar, DEA-wary pharmacies shy from dispensing addiction medication

Many pharmacists fear ordering too much buprenorphine will trigger a DEA investigation, research in Kentucky and North Carolina has found. That creates a "prescribing cliff," says Bayla Ostrach, who researches substance use disorder treatment and health policy. Doctors might prescribe more, but if pharmacies won’t fill the prescription, patients can’t get their medication. (Ainsley Bryce/Kaiser Health News/TNS)

Dr. Nathan Mullins, addiction medicine fellowship director at Mountain Area Health Education Center in North Carolina, says switching the medications of patients recovering from opioid use disorder can cause needless anxiety. (Courtney Ingram/Kaiser Health News/TNS)

When Martin Njoku saw opioid addiction devastate his West Virginia community, he felt compelled to help. This was the place he’d called home for three decades, where he’d raised his two girls and turned his dream of owning a pharmacy into reality.