RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A diabetic trying to buy syringes says a trip to the Brook Road Walmart turned into a nightmare that nearly jeopardized his life.
Jacob Fleming says the pharmacist made assumptions about him and refused to sell him syringes he needed for insulin. NBC 12 On Your Side talked with both sides of the complaint.
Fleming believes Walmart discriminated against him. Walmart corporate says its pharmacist could not verify the needles were for a legitimate purpose.
You don't need a prescription to purchase syringes over-the-counter in Virginia, but you do have to show a history of your insulin dependency.
"I showed him all of my vials," said Fleming. "I showed him my other prescriptions, my lisinopril. Did he ask for them? No, I just showed him to let him know, because all those things are associated with diabetes."
Fleming says he was led to believe he was being taken care of, only to be denied after waiting twenty minutes.
"I could have went into a coma or died. Really. It's that serious. I knew how my body was reacting, and I said all I need to do is just get some insulin," said Fleming. "Basically my legs, my thighs, my muscles were starting to tighten up. I was beginning to have acid reflux, which is a sign of ketoacidosis."
Virginia law gives pharmacists leeway to make a professional call and deny over-the-counter sale of syringes, but Jacob thinks this particular pharmacist overstepped his authority and misjudged him based on persistent problems in the neighborhood.
"He's saying, 'is this another guy in my area just trying to get needles to do drugs?' Yes, I had everything. I have a list of papers showing that I'm diabetic, and it's like the good people being punished for the bad people."
After a week of reaching out to Walmart for its assessment of what happened, corporate emailed NBC 12 Investigators a statement Monday. Here's the statement in its entirety from Senior Manager of Corporate Communications Charles Crowson:
Fleming says he's disappointed Walmart management didn't follow up with him to discuss his complaint, even though he says a store associate told him someone would.
"I just want them to acknowledge and change their procedure," said Fleming. "Innocent people that do need needles shouldn't be punished because of people that use needles for the wrong reason."
Fleming says he walked across the street to Walgreens and got his insulin syringes in ten minutes. NBC 12 called Walgreens. A pharmacist there said they asked a series of questions and were satisfied.
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