FORT WORTH -- Rick Elliot said he began feeling heightened pain levels and insomnia on Tuesday after his supply of prescription pain killers was cut by two-thirds.
Elliot, a patient at the JPS Health Network's Diamond Hill clinic, said he would normally receive an allotment of 180 pain pills that would last him a month, but all they would give him during his last visit on July 10 was 60 tablets, a 10-day supply.
Elliot said he took his last pill at 3 a.m. on Monday.
"I have not slept well since Sunday," Elliot said Thursday morning. "The pain level has come back but the hot and cold spells seem to be going away."
Elliot, who plays and teaches drumming for a living, is struggling against a drug supply shortage that a JPS official said is effecting patients using hydrocodone-based medications.
JPS pharmacies are limiting fills of hydrocodone-based medications at its pharmacies to 30 tablets for acute pain sufferers and 60 tabs for those who are suffering from chronic pain, said Gary Floyd, JPS medical director.
"When this first hit we were running out of tablets by noon," Floyd said. "We see a lot of patients here with pain. We will try to be proactive in doling out the medication so that no one gets turned away."
Floyd said staff will provide doctors with notices so that they can inform their patients of the situation and also provide pharmacy customers with information that will be placed in their medication bags.
Several JPS patients use hydrocodone-based medications, a synthetic narcotic, for pain control, Floyd said. Some, like dental or post-operative patients have acute pain symptoms and others have chronic pain issues, Floyd said. Sometimes it is difficult to find substitutes for the medication, but that is a patient-physician discussion, Floyd said.
"We do not know when the supply might get back up to speed," Floyd said.
Elliot said he has been diagnosed with arthritis and is still coping with pain from an automobile accident in 2006. The medication cuts have made it impossible for Elliot to continue to work playing or teaching drumming, he said.
"They've always treated me very well up to now," Elliot said. "It's the only medication I'm taking. I've been on this drug for more than six years and I don't know what I'm going to do. If I had a gun on either Monday or Tuesday night, I would have blown my brains out."
Elliot said that he asked the nurse at his doctor's office if there was a substitute medication that he could use or any program they could put him on that might help. They replied that he'd have to discuss that with his physician during his next appointment scheduled for Aug. 21, he said.
"I'm an old beat up drummer," said Elliot.
"Since the car wreck, I haven't gigged that much. I'm teaching a little, but I can't go walking into my students' homes going through withdrawal symptoms. If I don't have the meds, it's really hard for me to work."
Mitch Mitchell, 817-390-7752