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.

Ethics

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.

Conscience Clauses

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…

Books that are changing everything

Harassment

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.

Merry-go-round

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.

Insurance Coverage

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.

Coupons

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.

Transfers

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. ”

Sexism Racism

Walgreens has announced that they will no longer honor CVS/Pharmacy drug plan.

While doing research for my my new book I had the privileged and opportunity to speak with hundreds of diverse people. I have had numerous conversations with health care professionals from all over the country. I have spoken with doctors, pharmacist, technicians, managers and other professionals in regards to Health Care reform. Although those conversations/debates were enlightening, what I discovered about the retail Pharmacy business is far more shocking.  I won’t talk about the miss fills and errors, because a lot of that is under control and minimal besides Night Line has already done those type of reports. Those ABC reports will be nothing like the series of reports that are about to appear in this article. These stories have 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 “Family” part of the pharmacy was removed when pharmacies started popping up on every major street corner in America. The question is why? What do these pharmacy corporations know that the common person doesn’t. Answer: They know quite a few things that they aren’t telling us. And quite honestly they aren’t trying to help the public at large, even more disturbing is what these pharmacies are doing now. This series will look into blatant sexism, racism, harassment and more… you haven’t read nothing yet.

Running a retail pharmacy is a business like any other, so of course they all want to make money. Sure the 700% mark-ups, the $8 per pill dispensing fees are unreasonable, but who is actually paying attention.

Sexism:

Bathroom Gate

I was told of an incident where the light in the Men’s restroom was out for an entire year.  The situation was so bad that the male employees had to put a lamp in their bathroom in order to use it. Not long after and at the same pharmacy when management was informed that the light in the women’s restroom was out, the only person working (a manager) left the front store unattended to put the light in himself. It is a common practice to place combination locks on public restroom for “security purposes”. The lock on the women’s restroom was disable after a few complaints. The lock on the men’s restroom was not disabled, when asked why the lock on the  men’s restroom was not  disabled as well, the response given was “Men Steal”.

Books that are changing everything

Aside from the extra leeway that women receive from regional management, 70% of all hires are females, most of the males, that aren’t in management, stay in the back (“load” area), or are used to do most of the manual labor.. This doesn’t take into account the preferential treatment, which is of course location based and not corporate.

These corporations have very effective sexual harassment classes to education all of it’s employees. However, outside of those education classes males in managerial positions have  been told, off the record, that they care not allowed to scratch themselves.  I was told of instances where a broken finger nail has been cause for a paid day off from work. On the flip side of this there are very few women in president/vice president positions throughout these companies. While these things do not seems to rise to the level of smacking people on the butt, harassment,  off-color remarks, or pay for play type of activities, they are far from equal.

Unsafe Sex

Condoms and other safe sex products never go on sale.  These pharmacies usually lock up all safe-sex products up, causing potential buyers to ask for assistance, which is sometimes via loud speaker. What this often does is force the buyer to purchase other items that they don’t need to mask their purchase of their safe sex products. These corporations claim that this is done to combat theft, or loss, but you should see how much money they are throwing away in the trash every day.

Most pharmaceutical workers are intelligent,  nice and under appreciated not only by the corporations which employ them, but also by the customers they serve.

MG’s Health Advice If you are on High Blood pressure meditations they will be more effective if you take them around the same time every day. The average America woman takes a sleep aid two or three times per week.

Ethics Racism