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Bloomington man worried about access to opioid medication

Posted: 10:09 PM, Oct 17, 2017
Updated: 2017-10-18 02:09:47Z

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – A Bloomington man who depends on prescription opioid medication to complete daily tasks fears his supply might become unavailable due to the widespread drug crisis.

Wendell Gibbs, 54, said his medication frees him of chronic back pain, and without it, he wouldn’t be able to function.

"Think of it as someone taking a hot spike and shoving it down your back and somebody taking a sledge hammer to your legs and that is what it feels like constantly, non-stop,” said Gibbs.

He has had numerous back surgeries, including one that put an artificial disc in his back. He is prescribed a fentanyl patch and Endocet, which allow him to go to work 35 hours a week and enjoy his grandchildren.

Gibbs said his medications are the drugs being abused in opioid overdose cases.

“They want to get rid of them,” he said. “They want to take them off the shelves. They don't want them manufactured anymore. My question is, what are they going to substitute for people who have to have these. Those who are taking them responsibly and have to have them to function."

Officials with the Indiana Pharmacists Alliance said finding the balance is difficult.

"It's not easy to strike the right balance between keeping access, but also make sure we are preventing some of that illegal obtaining of that opioid medication,” said John Hertig. “From what I see right now, we are going to make sure patients like this get the medication that they need. Again, as pharmacists the primary concern is making sure the patients are cared for and we are optimizing patient outcomes."

Gibbs said for six years he and his doctors have tried to find the right medications to provide relief, and he doesn’t want to lose access. 

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