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Area cancer patient describes being refused medication

By Tom Jackson • Jun 20, 2019 at 9:00 AM

SANDUSKY — Stage 4 cancer patient Tina Bango said she was shocked when the pharmacy she had used for years, Rite Aid on Perkins Avenue, refused to fill her prescription for pain medication.

“It was like, what did I do?” Bango told the Sandusky Register.

Bango, 53, lives in Vickery but grew up in Sandusky. She graduated from Sandusky High School in 1985. Her maiden name was Tina Tuttle.

Bango has worked in factories and as a nursing assistant and has had pain problems with her back.

In 2016, however, she was diagnosed with cancer.

When she was in the hospital, “they came to my room at 5 a.m. and told me it was cancer,” Bango said. “When I was first diagnosed, they said they caught it early. It was at stage 2.”

The cancer has since spread to other parts of her body.

“Now it’s stage 4 terminal. Now it’s in both lungs,” Bango said. “Since then, every other week I have chemo, for the rest of my life.”

Bango said she first had a problem with Rite Aid in 2016 when it refused to fill a prescription from her doctor, local pain specialist Dr. Bill Bauer.

“They had been my pharmacy since the Pharm went out of business,” Bango said. “They tried to say I was doctor shopping. I just had major news, I had cancer.”

Bango said the second incident happened last month, in May, when the Rite Aid refused to fill a prescription from Bauer for Percocet, a painkiller.

“They told me if I could have my oncologist or another doctor write it, they would fill it, but they wouldn’t fill it for Dr. Bauer,” Bango said.

Bango said after she switched all of her family’s prescriptions from Rite Aid to another pharmacy, a pharmacist from Rite Aid called her to ask why.

“I told her the way I was being treated. She said it was corporate, not her,” Bango said.

In a series of stories, the Register has chronicled how local chronic pain patients have been caught in the crossfire, as authorities batting the opioid epidemic have sought to restrict prescriptions for painkillers.

Many believe the restrictions are good policy. Few, however, have argued that patients in advanced stages of cancer are driving the opioid epidemic.

Rite Aid received national publicity in April when a cancer patient in California, April Doyle, made a viral video describing how she had been “treated like a criminal” by a Rite Aid pharmacist and refused pain medication. She described the intense pain cancer gave her.

According to coverage at painnewsnetwork.com, the video got more than 200,000 views and Doyle received apologies from a Rite Aid vice president, store manager and even the pharmacist who had given her a hard time.

Bango has not made a viral video on social media, however, and local Rite Aid employees and the company’s national spokesman would not respond to the Register’s requests for comment.

A pharmacist at the Perkins Avenue Rite Aid said she cannot talk to the Register.

“We’re not able to, unfortunately, no,” she said, asking a reporter to call Rite Aid’s spokesman Chris Savarese.

Savarese responded to a phone call by asking for an email with the Register’s questions. The Register immediately sent an email. Savarese didn’t respond to that email or a follow-up email.

Bango said she realizes some doctors have been guilty of overprescribing pain medications, but she said she is attempting to cope with terminal cancer.

“The cancer keeps growing. It’s not growing much, but it keeps growing. You stress about that,” she said.

She said she takes as little medication as she can.

“I don’t like that feeling of not being in control,” she said.

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