This is the third and final 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 shocking.  This information was gathered from workers at the big chain pharmacies Rite Aide, Walgreens and CVS/Pharmacy.

Racism

There have been many articles, case studies and other ways to define or identify what racism is.  This is a tricky and touchy subject to gauge, so I have provided a few real stories. These are actual stories taken this year from your local pharmacy.

First here is the standard:

A Caucasian pharmacist, who routinely and inappropriately touched his female minority technicians was written up and the complaining technician was moved.

Another Caucasian pharmacist would openly pass gas in the pharmacy. He did this so much that he would at times soil himself. He would then go into the break room wash his undergarments and hang them up to dry, in plain view no less. He was written up and the complaining party was moved to another pharmacy. It sounds funny, but it is not, from what I was told the pharmacist was quite rank and that this went on for several month.

Minority Leadership Programs

Retail pharmacy corporations trumpet their diversity, as well as their programs initiated for minorities. What they don’t say is that the Federal Government gives them write-offs for such programs, nor do they mention that they get another tax write-off for hiring a minority.

Each of these corporations have minority leadership programs.  Recently, one company sent out an email inviting employees to the African-American Leadership Group. The email said that topics would be “Low Productivity, High Turn-Over and Absenteeism“.

The email for the Asian Leadership Group said the only topic would be “Communication”.

Books that are changing everything

Human Resources

A Regional pharmacy supervisor, who is Middle Eastern, told me that he has heard his bosses make racist comments toward him. Although he tells his workers to call Human Resources if they encounter this kind of problem, he acknowledges that he will never go to Human Resources with the issue. Everyone knows that Human Resources is there to save the company money and the minute you complain about something like this the clock is ticking on your employment.

Obvious Racism

*Pharmacy Corporate Executives always travel with managers and other executives*

An executive visited a store in Compton. When he saw that the prescription numbers were down, he said “If I get on the loudspeaker and started beat boxing I bet the prescription numbers will go up.

An executive entered a pharmacy in a neighborhood where the median income is $55,000 and median home price is $600,000. Upon seeing two African-American pharmacy technicians he promptly picked up his cellphone, called his friend on the east coast and said with a smile “Guess where I am? I’m deep in the hood now.”

Another executive remarked to a crowd of managers on the possible cause for a slight dip in the pharmacy’s customers service score, he said to the pharmacist “I know it is not you, it’s Those.” The only other people who worked in the pharmacy were African-American.

Here is a common case

A pharmacy executive toured a retail pharmacy and all of the comment she made were glowing, all except one, she said “We need to change the color scheme.”

Including the front store portion this pharmacy was 45% African-American, 30% Latino, 20% Asian and 5% white. Two weeks after this executive made her comment. The African-American General Manger was removed, The Asian supervisor was transferred. A Caucasian was brought into replace the General Manager while the other minorities hours were summarily cut. Every two weeks a minority was moved, fired or replaced. It goes without saying that minority workers are harassed, threaten with being fired, or have their hours cut as a matter or routine.

An African-American supervisor who was very tough on giving refunds was told to be more lenient on giving out refund to customers. Two weeks later they arrested this supervisor and brought them up on charges of fraud. Loss Preventions said that she was giving out too many refunds. Meanwhile at another location a General Manager had stolen $40,000 this person was merely fired.

6 months after this executive make the “Color Scheme” comment the store is 70% white, 15% African American, 10% Latino and 15% Asian. I assume they feel that the color scheme is now more manageable.

The National Perspective

With unemployment of minorities much higher than the national unemployment rate on 9.5,  you can see that this scenario is typical of what is and has been occurring all over America. The politicians will say that Americans need jobs, so the government sets out a jobs creation bill, enter the HIRE Act. It sounds reasonable, right?  Wrong. In most companies the executives, who are by-in-large Caucasians and who generally  occupy positions of authority, from executives down to supervisors, have a tendency to hire people who have “similar backgrounds to their own“.  As the economy grows more jobs will be created, but this squeezing out of minorities allows the overall unemployment numbers to stay high. This is what happens when you let the “Market Correct Itself“. This is what happens when you place your emphasis on “Hope”. This is what happens when we no longer pay attention. This is what happens when our elected officials stop working for the people and begin working for themselves. Ultimately, this is what happens when the wrong people are in charge.

President Barack Obama talks a lot about the 17 Billion in tax cuts to big business, he talks a lot about spurring on small businesses, but he never talks about race. He talks about incentives, and growth, but where are our incentives to grow as a nation? The real victims are more than voiceless masses and campaign slogans. These people vote, these people are hard working, law-abiding U.S. citizens and now they are victims of not only the recession, but racism as well. Surely this can’t be happening… maybe my examples can be explained in another way? Perhaps we just don’t want to confront the issue or maybe we no longer have the stomach for it. With regard to racism there are those of us that believe that this issue will just go away and there are those of us that know that this issue wont just go away.

These scenarios that I detailed have nothing to do with skill level or education, upon further examination you realize that many of these pharmacy  executives have little to no experience in the positions they are hired for and it goes without saying that minorities are promoted slower than Caucasians. 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 Word:

Long term use of (Proton Pump Inhibitors) PPIs can substantially increase your risk of fractures.
Today death caused by prescription drugs now out number traffic fatalities, yet law enforcement spends tax dollars on marijuana and alcohol.

(Generally speaking Heartburn means don’t eat that)

For Reference (White unemployment rate 8%, Latino 14%, Black 17%)

Ethics Sexism

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”.

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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