HealthDay News — Most pharmacists report experiencing multiple delays or issues with their controlled substance orders, according to the results of the National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) Controlled Substances Access Survey.

“Vulnerable patients are increasingly and tragically becoming collateral damage in the country’s battle against the abuse of prescription drugs, particularly narcotic painkillers,” Douglas Hoey, RPh, MBA, chief executive officer of the NCPA, said in a statement. 

The December 2013 survey included responses from more than 1,000 community pharmacist regarding access to controlled substances and an open-ended section to share observations.

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About 75% of respondents reported experiencing three or more delays or issues with their controlled substance orders in the past 18 month, which were caused by stopped shipments. On average, these delays affected 55 patients per pharmacy.

The majority, 89%, received no advanced notice of the delay, and only discovered the delay when their order arrived and included only non-controlled substances. The delays in receiving these medications lasted at least a week for 60% of respondents.

More than half of pharmacists, 67.9%, reported being unable to obtain these substances from an alternate source. As a result, most pharmacies had to turn patients away and refer them to a competitor.


  1. National Community Pharmacists Association. NCPA Controlled Substances Access Survey Results. January 2014. Accessed 17 Jan. 2014. Available at: