Suncoast men say they are collateral damage in war on drugs

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SARASOTA, FLA. - Florida fights prescription drug abuse aggressively. State regulators tighten regulations and limit the supply of narcotic pills distributors and pharmacies can have in their inventory. It is a move applauded by Sheriff Tom Knight who says it has made it harder for criminals to abuse prescription drugs.

“And so the individuals who truly need it will be able to get their hands on it,” Sheriff Knight told ABC 7.

Not so says Tom Contant.

“I’m in severe chronic pain 24/7.” A severe motorcycle accident left him disabled and dependent on pain medication.

“Oh, I would give up this garbage,” said Contant. “I have been having to take this medication since 1990 and these people on the streets that want to take it for fun, nail them, cause I don’t want to take it.”

He says he is unable to function without pain meds and now he is having trouble getting his legitimate prescriptions filled.

“I’ve been from every pharmacy from here to North Port one day trying to drive and find this medication. I was told the same thing in every place, we have gone through our allocations. We don’t have that in stock any more. We’ve gone through our allocation.”

Contant had to return to his doctor who wrote a new prescription for a weaker medicine that has left him in agony.

Contant friend and neighbor, Steve Lasher is also dependent on pain medication.

“I’m like collateral damage in a war. These things that they are trying to do are affecting those of us who really need this medicine,” said Lasher. He has been HIV positive for 20 years says it is hard enough getting prescriptions filled when the pharmacy has the supply on hand.

“You take the prescription up to the counter and they look at you like you are a junkie. They look at you like you are there and you don’t really need to be there,” said Lasher.

Both men say they are innocent victims in the war on drugs. They hope something is changed so those with painful conditions and valid prescriptions will not have to needlessly suffer.