This is the second part of my exploration into the Retail Pharmacy. I have spoken with doctors, pharmacist, technicians, managers and other professionals and what I discovered about the retail Pharmacy business is pretty shocking. This report is not about the miss-fills and errors, because much of that is under control and minimal besides Night line has already done those type of reports. Those ABC reports will be nothing like this series of articles. Besides while ABC is doing its special report on “Shopping Carts” this information has to be told, how else are we going to talk about it. This gathered information is from workers at the big chain pharmacies Rite Aide, Walgreens and CVS/Pharmacy.
The retail pharmacies have various slogans make it seem like that are here to help the public, but really the only exist to help you maintain your condition. Recently they have told their employees that they will get a 6% raise, but only gave them 4% raise, this is despicable, it is a recession so who is going to complain. Sure the 700% mark-ups and $8 per pill dispensing fees are unreasonable. Merger after merger has made these companies so powerful that no one cares when the corporation cuts an employees clock-in grace period time from 7 to 3 minutes in order to save money, but who is actually paying attention.
Most pharmacist are considered experts in their field. However, the opinion of pharmacist are disregarded by the pharmacy companies that employ them. When it comes to medications, the patient and the business suits always seem to know more than the pharmacist. Pharmacist are routinely told to fill prescriptions that they know are fake to bolster sales, that also includes the patients that are frequently over medicating.
Pharmacist are routinely told to switch customers from brand name drugs to generic drugs. They are told this for several reasons; One the pharmacy gets a bigger profit off of the generic drug and two it often provides the customer with little to no savings on their insurance. This practice is a win-win for both the pharmacy and insurance company.
For example: Your doctor writes you a prescription for Vytorin. Vytorin is a brand only drug that does not have a generic. The insurance company won’t cover, charges a much higher co-pay or just does not want to pay the higher amount for the Vytorin, so they instructs the pharmacist to call your doctor to change your Vytorin prescription to Zocor (Zocor’s generic is Simvastatin which they will pay for) . They will do this and tell you that it will save you money, but in actuality the pharmacist and insurance companies know that Simvastatin does not do the same thing as Vytorin. The doctor only prescribed you Vytorin because some hot female drug rep came into his office and told them to do it. I am not a doctor, but this all could have been avoided because Zocor by itself should be tried first, this is common knowledge.
If a pharmacist has an ethical, moral or religious objection to dispensing Emergency Contraception, or Abortion Pills, they will be coerced into doing so, or moved to the worst and often violent pharmacy locations. Not only are Moral and Ethical obligations taught in Pharmacy school The American Pharmacists Association policy “recognizes the individual pharmacist’s right to exercise conscientious refusal and supports the establishment of systems to ensure patient access to legally prescribed therapy without compromising the pharmacist’s right of conscientious refusal. States have and may pass laws that restrict religious expression, but that is another matter for the Supreme Court to argue in regard to “Conscience Clauses.” By the way those companies charge $50 for the Emergency contraception pill(s), but the same dosage in a different form is and has been available for years at less than $12. By marketing these companies are using your reproductive process against you. Don’t believe me look it up…
Pharmacist have been directed to sign up customers for various programs, sometimes this is done without the patient’s knowledge. The calls and messages can be unending. For example you may be placed in an automatic refill program, which automatically refills your prescription each month. This auto refill happens each month whether you need the medication or not, almost forcing the patient to pick up the medication. The understaffed pharmacy personell is instructed to call each patient at least 3-4 times per week to ask if they want or need their medications. On paper this seems like a good program, but most customers and pharmacist feel that it is harassment. Many customers feel that these companies are only reminding them that they have an illness, or a condition for profit. These programs are not designed to help patients, they are designed to keep them dependent on pharmaceuticals.
Pharmacies switch customers drugs as often as every two months. This is especially true if the patient is on Thyroid, Birth Control, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes medications. What happens is that the corporation will order whatever is the cheapest generic medication that quarter. That cheaper product is not always the medication that you are accustomed to, so you make end up medication that is a different size, different color, different shape or different tasting than the one you are used to.
Retail pharmacies have been cutting their employee children insurance. They have done this by introducing a few new provisions, one of which states that “you can not arbitrarily cover your child if they do not live with you.” This provision only affect a small percentage of employees and most of them are men. The amount of verifications and hoop jumping employees have to go through to get their children covered is absurd.
Yes we all have done it. Transfer your prescription out of one pharmacy and into another one just to get one of those $25 gift cards. It’s a recession and people need the extra money. However, these quarterly promotions do more than fill your pockets with gift cards. Pharmacies run sophisticated computer software that automatically checks drug interactions chain wide. The problem arises when you transfer prescriptions from other chains, or back and forth from chain to chain. Moving your medication from one pharmacy chain to another actually increase your chances of having a drug interaction, because there is no way for the computer to check another chain’s computer database. This is another one of many concerns that have fallen on deaf ears.
Lets say that you want to transfer a prescription from one pharmacy chain to another, sounds simple enough, right? Pharmacist have been instructed to either call the other pharmacy back, or to put them on hold, while they call the customer to convince them to not move their prescription. Sometimes this is done by using disparaging remarks about another retail chain, or just making it difficult for them to do so. Who wants to wait on their medication while these companies play a corporate numbers games with each another?
The public should have never let Corporate Pharmacies and big Pharm define the terms of the debate and legislative agenda. Most pharmaceutical workers are intelligent, nice and completely under appreciated not only by the corporations which employ them, but also by the customers they serve.
MG’s Health Advice: The Pap Smear is not as accurate to detect cervical cancer and HPV. Right now there are 10 million people on daily prescription drugs, with no medical need. Every 16 minutes someone dies from prescription drug use.
“New drug doesn’t mean better drug. ”
Walgreens has announced that they will no longer honor CVS/Pharmacy drug plan.