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Some Victoria pharmacies refuse to fill Drive Thru Doc prescriptions

By JR Ortega
June 1, 2013 at 1:01 a.m.
Updated June 2, 2013 at 1:02 a.m.

Located in a portable building of a former used car lot on Rio Grande Street  near 5 Points is Drive Thru Doc, the subject of a controversial approach to health care.

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Read how Victoria Drive Thru Doc is raising concerns in the medical community, click here.

Several Victoria pharmacies are questioning whether prescriptions signed at Drive Thru Doc are legitimate or safe for patients.

The business, owned and operated by Victoria physician Dr. Courtney Morgan, has been writing prescriptions without examining patients.

Walgreens, Rogers Pharmacy, Wal-Mart and CVS will not fill prescriptions written at Drive Thru Doc.

Dr. John McNeill, who owns Twin Fountains Medical Clinics throughout South Texas, said he supported the pharmacies' position.

"It's ridiculous," he said about how Morgan practices. "I think it's dangerous and irresponsible."

Prescribing without a professional relationship can be fatal to the patient, McNeill said.

An example: prescribing Ambien to a patient - as Morgan reportedly did in one instance - could lead to addiction, hallucination and even memory loss.

Even worse, the patient could have been on existing medication or had an allergy to the pill, which could lead to several more life-threatening issues, McNeill said.

"Just think - if these drugs were not dangerous, they wouldn't need a prescription," he said. "It's a very serious and dangerous thing to do."

One pharmacy, Central Drug on Laurent Street, is accepting Morgan's prescriptions - an employee at Drive Thru Doc even gave instructions specifically to fill at Central Drug.

Steve Branch, owner of Central Drug, said his pharmacy is a specialization pharmacy, meaning it can create drugs in a lab on site.

Branch would not comment why the pharmacy accepts Drive Thru Doc's prescriptions but confirmed his business does.

"I can't speak to that," he said. "We are a compounding pharmacy. We don't do walk-in stuff."

The CVS at Airline Road and Navarro Street does not have Morgan's name in its system, and that's why it will not fill his prescriptions, said pharmacist Obi Oke.

"His information is not showing up yet," he said. "We called corporate. We are still trying to update that information."

The pharmacy does not fill a prescription for any doctor not in the system, Oke said. However, the Advocate sent reporter Jessica Priest to area pharmacies to learn which would consider filling the prescription she picked up at Drive Thru Doc. CVS told Priest, 24, the pharmacy would fill the prescription for $30.

Michael Ward, a pharmacist at Castle Hills Pharmacy, said an established patient-doctor relationship must be verified before filling any prescription.

"Pharmacies have to be so careful because there could be a lot happening behind the scenes," he said. "You have to establish legitimacy."

Priest visited Drive Thru Doc for allergies and was prescribed prednisone without a doctor examination, only speaking to Morgan over the phone from the drive-thru window.

Dr. Robert Harvey at Victoria Allergy and Asthma Clinic said he was concerned about the toxicity a patient faces when being issued a prescription without a physical examination.

Harvey said prednisone is a strong steroid and should not be prescribed lightly.

"It's not a first-line drug. It's for inflammation," he said.

Other drugs, such as over-the-counter medications and their stronger prescription counterparts, should be tried first before a steroid, he said - especially if a doctor hasn't even seen the patient.

McNeill said he was surprised Morgan's business has not yet been investigated. McNeill advises patients not to use the business.

"As an internist, I think that health care is based upon the physician-patient relationship," he said. "You're putting a patient on a prescription that could help them but also harm them."

Advocate reporters Jessica Priest and Keldy Ortiz contributed to this report.

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