I say diazepam and you say zolpidem; let’s call the whole thing off

First of all, zolpidem is the active ingredient in Ambien, the sleep remedy. But mostly, it’s not what I’ve been taking for years, to go to sleep, which is a five milligram tablet of diazepam. Because a five milligram of diazepam is relatively benign, I’ve been taking it for years with no side effects.

On the other hand, when I received my new prescription for it, I brought it to the Walgreen pharmacy two blocks from my home. I was told to return in an hour to pick it up. When I did return, I had to wait for the prescription because the person who had originally taken the prescription from me was leaving for the day and passed me on to some other nerd who told me that my script for diazepam was really 10 milligram tablets of zopidem, which is used in Ambien, which is dispensed as a kind of recreational drug leading to addiction.

Then I remembered that Walgreens made history a while ago . . . by being ordered to pay the largest fine in the history of the US Controlled Substances Act. In a story by Ruth Brown in the Newser, The drugstore empire was slugged for $80 million for “an unprecedented number of violations in its sale of oxycodone and other controlled substances, following a probe by the DEA.” USA Today also reported, “The agency says Walgreens allowed the highly addictive painkillers to reach the black market by systematically failing to report unusually large or frequent orders from its pharmacies, and dispensing to customers even when their prescription was flagged as problematic.”

“Walgreens pharmacists blatantly ignored red flags,” said a DEA special agent. Six of Walgreens’ Florida pharmacies were ordering more than a million oxycodone pills a year, the DEA found. One pharmacy in a town of 34,000 people ordered 2.2 million pills in 2011; the average US pharmacy orders 73,000 a year. Those pharmacies have had their controlled substance licenses suspended until May 2014 and the company has been barred from distributing controlled drugs from its Florida warehouse—the largest supplier of oxycodone to pharmacies in the state—until September 2014.”

Regarding the highly addictive Ambien, a good friend of mine became severely addicted to it. And it took a painfully long while for her to kick it. “Once I realized what had happened with my prescription, I remembered that Walgreens had recently been slapped with the $80 million dollar fine for its excesses.”

I say so much for Walgreens and their pharmaceuticals. Right now, I’m waiting for my doctor’s office to call back and tell me what they can do to get my original five milligram Diazepam tablets back—and my money.”

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. An EBook version of his book of poems “State Of Shock,” on 9/11 and its after effects is now available at Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. He has also written hundreds of articles on politics and government as Associate Editor of Intrepid Report (formerly Online Journal). Reach him at gvmaz@verizon.net.

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2 Responses to I say diazepam and you say zolpidem; let’s call the whole thing off

  1. I will say that my doctor called back and apologized for putting Ambien on the prescription and offered to write a new RX ASAP. This morning I’m going down to his office to pick it up. He also offered to mail it to me if I can’t make it.. We can’t tar all physicians with the same brush. He is an excellent doctor and kept me healthy for the past 20 years.
    Jerry Mazza Associate Editor.

  2. Re Vincent: He reports that Walgreens’ has backed down! They are keeping their headquarters in America where they will pay their share of taxes as an American company. This on orders from Obama.
    This is a huge success and shows the power of an organized and informed group of activists.

    Obama didn’t want Walgreens to move to Europe to avoid taxes because it would be unfair to our Euro-partners. But this is just the start. But we need to keep the pressure on to stop other companies from using this “inversion” scam to evade U.S. taxes. Most importantly, we need to change the laws that allows greedy corporations to skirt their responsibilities.
    Vincent you opened my eyes even wider to take in Walgreens’ greed. They still haven’t got the message. Pay your taxes, do the right thing.