CVS Underfills Your Prescription, Treats You Like A Junkie

CVS underfilled Shannon’s prescription and then treated her like a junkie when she complained. According to her email, after Shannon picked up her regular monthly batch of 60 Kolonopin pills, an anticonvulsant, she realized CVS only gave her 30. She called CVS and they insisted they gave her 60 pills. Shannon encouraged them to check their inventory, which CVS said was impossible. Shannon then asked them to fill one of the refills for the script. CVS told her that insurance wouldn’t cover more than 60 pills in 30 days. Shannon said that was fine, seeing as it’s dangerous to suddenly stop taking the drug, she would pay out of pocket. CVS then told her they would not do the refill “under any circumstances” and they would note her record for “drug-seeking behavior…”

Shannon told her doctor and he called in a prescription to a different pharmacy and took care of the insurance. The doctor now tells all his patients to avoid CVS. “Now I go to a local independent pharmacy where the pharmacist knows me by sight,” writes Shannon. “When you get a prescription filled, particularly at CVS, have them watch as you count the pills in front of them. You count your change, you check the bag to make sure you get the two apple pies you ordered from McDonalds, so it makes sense to make them wait and watch while you make sure you are getting what you pay so much for.”

(Photo: Sexy Fitsum)

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  1. speedwell (propagandist and secular snarkist) says:

    So, I wonder which junkie stole her pills. Maybe one who worked for CVS? You think?

  2. esd2020 says:

    CVS once tried to tell me that 30 pills was enough for 30 days, even though the instructions were “take three every day.”

    “I’m sorry, your insurance won’t cover a 90-day supply”

    Buncha rocket scientists.

  3. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    Because, as we all know, one store’s behavior is indicitive of the entire chain.

  4. BuddyGuyMontag says:

    BTW, klonopin is an anti-convulsant? Really? I coulda sworn it was an anti-depressant.

  5. Smitherd says:

    Now now now, it’s obvious what’s happening here.

    The pharmacy workers are keeping the pills to take for themselves!

    Maybe that explains why they can’t unlock the cabinet.

  6. Wormfather says:

    I’m gonna go ahead and blame the victim here. (Someone has to) Had Shannon not needed the pills than this would be an issue.

    I get sick and tired of reading articles on this website where the person has some ailment that their “qualified” doctor (you know after 4 years of med school just about anyone can call them selves a doctor) perscribed them a medication. Well did Shannon get a second and third opinion? I think not.

    CVS and the Insurance Company are only looking out for Shannon’s best interest here, I applaud that.

    /sarcasm

  7. esd2020 says:

    Yeah, Klonopin is an anti-convulsant. People with seizures take it, not just people afraid of flying.

  8. ohiomensch says:

    Not blaming the victim here ;), however, since I was a child my mother always told me to count your pills before you leave the pharmacy. Just like counting your money at the bank. Once you leave, you can’t prove anything, and there are less than reputable pharmacists out there. You know, the ones who give you placebos instead of your chemotherapy medication…

  9. missdona says:

    @esd2020: or people who have panic attacks.

  10. Dinkle says:

    I think it’s important to avoid maligning the entire chain because of a bad pharmacy crew at this location. Of course, corporate is responsible for hiring, training, and keeping tabs on their pharmacists, but keep in mind that not all CVSes are like this.

    Our CVS treats us like people, and with a diabetic and another family member with a variety of prescriptions, they have never been anything but professional, and do know us personally enough to understand our needs and to be flexible.

  11. DeleteThisAccount says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Actually Walgreens treated my father like some sort of pill stealing old man because he counted out one of his regular prescriptions and found the bottle 5 pills short. They thought he was bullshitting them when he went back to the store to ask for what he had paid. Now he goes to a different pharmacy, but counts his pills before he leaves.

    I rarely get any pills filled, but also dump out all the pills on a bag/paper over the counter and count them before leaving the store.

  12. mindshadow says:

    @Wormfather: Obvious troll is obvious.

  13. Munsoned says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: CVS being incapable of checking their inventory? That sounds like a system-wide problem to me. How the hell can you run a nationwide pharmacy and not have a system to check inventory? I doubt the local pharmacist has that problem…

  14. scoobydoo says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: It’s not the first time we’ve read what a bunch of douchebags work at CVS. Once you start adding up all the negative stories it becomes clear they are to be avoided.

  15. It’s much worse for them to take this position than to potentially enable addicts, because good customer service matters more than the public health.

  16. Bizdady says:

    Ya I get my Diabetes supplies from CVS and I just hate how it takes them 40 minutes to pull diabetes test strips from the behind the shelf.

  17. Wormfather says:

    @mindshadow: I dont think I was trolling, I was going ahead and doing what someone was going to do eventually, except I was being sarcastic. Only a troll would blame the victim here…oh wait, shit.

  18. mindshadow says:

    @Wormfather: Shit, I turned off my sarcasm meter and missed your /sarcasm at the end of your post. My apologies.

  19. satoru says:

    Well according to Wikipedia there isn’t a huge black market for this kind of drug. However it is labeled as a high potency benzodiazepine. Thus there are physical dependency issues that can arise if you take it for a long time. There’s even an entire withdrawal syndrome named after them. She is correct that due to the withdrawal symptoms it’s very dangerous to stop taking these.

    But again this seems odd. If you get a perscription don’t you check how much is in there when you buy it?

  20. bonzombiekitty says:

    @Bizdady: To be fair, it’s not just pulling the test strips. They have to deal with insurance, log the order, etc, as well as do all that for all the people ahead of you.

  21. zentex says:

    CVS is full of idiots. They filled a prescription with the wrong drug for me not long ago. Granted, it was in the same class (thankfully), but my doctor didn’t want me on that, which is why he prescribed something else. I didn’t even get a ‘sorry’ out of CVS, all I got was a refund and a fake promise to investigate. bastards. No worries, I enjoy the drive to another pharmacy now.

    The sad part, when I went back the next day, they still had the original script. I pointed to it and said “Where do you get Y from X?”. I got a blank stare. Robots are fun.

    Is it so hard to take responsibility and say ‘sorry’ these days? I’m an easy going fellow, I’ll accept a sorry and be on my way, litigation is for the birds.

  22. ElizabethD says:

    This is the first time I have ever seen Klonopin described as an “anticonvulsant.” It is a widely used anti-anxiety med — same family as Xanax, but longer-acting. (More like Xanax XR.) Most pharmacies will be way more vigilant about refills on controlled substances. Not to excuse CVS’s screwup.

  23. ediebeale says:

    @ADismalScience: It’s not just good customer service, it’s GIVING HER THE MEDICINE SHE NEEDS TO NOT HAVE CONVULSIONS, which is, I think, in the interest of public health. You’re an idiot.

  24. SinisterDexter says:

    My girlfriend works for a social services agency in Northern NJ and she is constantly complaining about CVS. She works with clients with mental illness but that are stable enough for independent living. They have their prescriptions filled out at a local CVS because it is within walking distance from the majority of the houses they live at.

    About a week ago she filled a prescription for a client and was told that it would be ‘taken care of right away’ A week later the script still hasn’t been filled because they claim that the medications are ‘Hard to get in stock’. We are talking about a prescription for Cymbalta and other anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs that this client needs to NOT have a psychotic break.

    They filled out one of the prescriptions but they are stonewalling her on the others. Every time she goes there they say that they aren’t allowed to talk to her(even though the client has signed a release waiver with both the agency she works for AND CVS) and she can’t talk to a manager.

    I made the suggestion that she should tell her higher ups and get them to change to a different pharmacy, but they have an account with CVS so I doubt that will happen. Me? I get my prescriptions filled at a local grocery store or at the Wal-Mart that I work at.(And before I get lambasted for working for Wal-Mart, I work in their Tire Lube Express department changing oil and working on tires.)

  25. Reina says:

    This happened at a local CVS in Bergen County.
    My 13 year old daughter has ADD I filled a script for 60 Focaline XR I actually looked in the bottle to make sure and it seemed right. After a few days my daughter said she believed the capsules were empty. I ignored her until finally she shook one by my ear and I opened and guess what it was empty. I went straight down to the pharmacy and they gave me a new script no questions asked.STRANGE

  26. Darkwish says:

    @Munsoned: They were afraid to be proved in the wrong and/or didn’t want it revealed that their employees were stealing some drugs which might be uncovered if they actually did an audit of their inventory.

  27. nico002 says:

    I constantly read posts on this site claiming that Pharmacists are idiots. Going through Pharmacy school is very hard and takes a lot of work. Sure, there are exceptions, but it’s ridiculous having to read these generalizations made by uninformed punks about a serious profession.

  28. clementine says:

    To me, this news story from a while back just says it all about CVS -

    [www.plannedparenthood.org]

    If they don’t ‘believe’ in your prescription, they can refuse to fill it, company policy.

  29. ediebeale says:

    @ediebeale: should not have called ADismalScience an idiot. It’s simply an idiotic statement that an issue with a pharmacy and pill count is just a customer service issue. It’s also a health issue, and an insurance issue, for that matter.

  30. Beerad says:

    @ADismalScience: Are you seriously advocating that refusing to acknowledge potential mistakes made by pharmacy employees is a good approach to take because otherwise you would be encouraging addicts to rip off pharmacies? Seriously?

  31. ChuckECheese says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Klonopin is a one-size-fits-all la-la pill. It is related to Valium, but much more potent. It calms you, it takes away the shakes, it prevents seizures (sometimes), it has mild antidepressant properties, and can help you sleep. Klonopin’ll also make you feel hung-over, sleepy, and forgetful. It’s quite addictive, one usually needs increasing doses if taken for a long period of time, and withdrawal symptoms happen when it’s stopped. It’s quite the scary pill IMO.

  32. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    But again this seems odd. If you get a perscription don’t you check how much is in there when you buy it?

    @satoru: Um, no. I’ve never checked the number of pills in a prescription I bought at a pharmacy. I’ll admit stories like this prove that I should but it never occurred to me to do it before. I’ve never had this problem.

    Of course now I get them through the mail so I can’t check the amount in front of them anyway.

  33. MsFeasance says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag:
    From Dr. WebMD, Klonopin (a.k.a. clonazepam) is used to treat the following:
    “Panic Disorder, Epilepsy of the Lennox Gastaut Syndrome, Seizure with Loss of Normal Tone or Strength, Seizures with Irregular Muscle Contractions, Petit Mal Seizures, Manic Bipolar Disorder Adjunct Treatment, Tourette’s, Tonic-Clonic Epilepsy, Simple Partial Seizures, Convulsive Seizures, Epileptic Seizure.”
    You’re confusing it with Alprazolam, which is Xanax.
    UrbanDictionary claims that it’s used recreationally, under the street name of K-pin, but only in combination with other drugs. Your mileage may vary on that one.
    It’s a DEA Schedule IV controlled substance, which, while it’s hardly a schedule I, means that CVS employees ought to be bending over backwards to make sure that their inventories match what they claim they dispensed.

  34. SoCalGNX says:

    Can’t inventory how many pills they have? How do they keep employees from stealing them if they don’t? Cuts the customers prescription by 2/3s but gets the insurance to pay for the full amount? Maybe the DEA, IRS and local attorney general should have a chat with them.

  35. Beerad says:

    @nico002: Pharmacist != the person who necessarily dispenses your pills. Generally there will be one “pharmacist” on duty and a whole bunch of near-minimum wage “pharmacy techs” who have not, in fact, gone to college to learn their trade and may only have had specialized courses in surliness and poor customer service. Especially at CVS.

  36. ChuckECheese says:

    @satoru: No I never checked my prescriptions and I never knew anybody who did. This seems to be a modern problem. I would have felt like a fool had I dumped my bottle onto the pharmacy counter and started counting pills like pennies, and I have no doubt that it would have annoyed the pharmacist(s) too. I can remember only one time, a long time ago, when I was shorted on a prescription, and the pharmacy fixed it without a peep. Another time, Wal-Mart filled a prescription with the wrong dosage, then didn’t want to correct it, but a couple phone calls to the board of pharmacy and to WM HDQ got me an apology, a free prescription, and a full refund.

  37. ChuckECheese says:

    @SoCalGNX: They inventory their drugs; this pharmacist didn’t want to be bothered. Many of the Consumerist stories are about somebody who needed some service that would have required an extra few steps from an employee, but were refused, saying “it’s impossible.” What they really meant to say was, “Idonwanna.”

  38. ChuckECheese says:

    @ADismalScience: I can’t stop laughing. @Beerad: Please get a dry sense of humor. And remember, it’s a dismal science.

  39. SOhp101 says:

    I always knew that I should count my pills (when prescribed) of narcotic substances but I never thought I would actually hear of a story where they were miscounted. Sounds like a tech with a drug problem probably took some. CVS seems to be the Wal-mart of drugstores or something.

  40. MaliBoo Radley says:

    As a person who takes Klonopin for panic attacks, I find this, well, panic inducing. If I stop taking my meds, the withdrawl symptom will put me in the hospital. Luckily, I always check my meds before I leave the pharmacy.

  41. pearfreak says:

    The exact same thing happened to me at CVS in Buffalo last month. I went to pick up my prescription and opened it in my car. I only had 20 pills instead of 120. When I went inside, the Pharmacy manager laughed and said “oops, they must have been counting when the phone rang, and forgot to add the other 100 pills”. Yeah, that’s not real comforting for a place that is in charge of my prescriptions. Im letting the script run out and going to another pharmacy.

  42. polyeaster says:

    Klonopin is not an anti depressant to my knowledge…it is sometimes used for ppl with various mental health probs, or for pain, or (like the lady in this story) to prevent seizures.

  43. ConsumerAdvocacy1010 says:

    Pharmacists are not idiots. It’s just that my Walgreen’s doesn’t always have a pharmacist there….which i thought is illegal…

    It’s the other people at Walgreen’s and CVS that are idiots.

  44. Mr. Gunn says:

    BuddyGuyMontag: That’s exactly the problem with a chain! Their policies are decided upon “from on high”, and the individual stores employees have little discretion to make their own decisions, and you wouldn’t want them to, either, because they hire minimally skilled people since all they’re supposed to do is follow orders.

  45. NotATool says:

    @clementine: A similar case in Illinois happened a few years back. The state now requires the pharmacy to conspicuously post a sign stating that state law requires the pharmacy to fill your prescription, even if it is for contraceptives.

    Previously, if the pharmacist had a moral issue with a prescription, he/she could refuse to fill but would refer the patient to another pharmacist or pharmacy.

  46. ezacharyk says:

    I must say that I really like the Target Pharmacy in Norman, OK. My wife had a baby about two weeks back and her doctor prescribed a pain killer for her. She was released from the hospital on Sunday and we had to go to the pharmacy for the pills. We got there and gavethem the prescription. Shortly after handing it over, they come out to talk to us and inform us that they cannot read the dosage.

    So they spend the next hour trying to get in touch with our doctor. In the meantime I take my wife home and give her a bunch of Ibuprofen.

    Twenty minutes after getting home they call us back and tell us the prescription has finally been filled.

    I run back to target and pick them up and they give us an immediate $3 discount on the pills. $3 off a $4 prescription is pretty nice.

    I love service like that.

  47. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I had a prescription for my wife misfiled at another large chain. The first time they filled it it was correct, but mislabeled (with enough code on the label that I couldn’t tell). The next time it was wrong.

    Turns out we were paying twice as much, so they gave us a large refund, a free refill, and turned in the appropriate forms for the error to the state.

    I was frustrated that they caused the problem, but I felt that they handled it well. Of course the computer saying on prescription and the filed doctors rx saying something else was irrefutable.

  48. NotATool says:

    The problem with high volume pharmacies like CVS or Walgreens is that they work like an assembly line, push as many scripts/hour as they can, all while minimizing cost (i.e. understaffing). This leads to errors.

  49. psychos says:

    I filled a prescription for Klonopin as well at a CVS in Ohio a couple years ago. They gave me 0.5mg tablets instead of 1mg tablets. I didn’t open the bottle until after I left the store, but it was immediately apparent. The 0.5mg tablets are yellow, the 1mg tablets are green. I blame the pharmacist for such a stupid screwup. This is an extremely common medication, so I’d think any pharmacist who wasn’t fresh out of school would know the 0.5mg vs 1mg tablets just by the color, and of course that doesn’t excuse missing the other double-checking that they’re supposed to do.

    I went back fairly quickly, and fortunately they didn’t give me any trouble about fixing the prescription. I now glance into any prescription bottles before I leave the store to roughly verify count and that the drug is the right shape/size/color. (CVS also prints a physical description of the drug on the bottle which is helpful if you’re talking something unfamiliar, or a different generic.)

    My local CVS in MA hasn’t ever screwed up, and almost always will let me wait while they fill prescriptions in 10 – 15 minutes, so I have no problems with them, and it’s the only drug store within walking distance.

  50. trillium says:

    “Now I go to a local independent pharmacy where the pharmacist knows me by sight,” speaks volumes…

  51. pandroid says:

    Pharmacies seem to vary wildly within a chain. The CVS near me is always quick and polite. I’m sure there’s some awful CVS’s out there though.

  52. Anonymous says:

    Stay away from CVS. This is the same drugstore chain which, a few years ago, turned away a local married woman here in N. Texas who was trying to re-fill a Rx for birth control. The pharmacist, some sort of born-again, conservative Christian nutcase, said he had “religious” objections to filling it. And the company didn’t apologize to the customer in any, meaningful way or fire his ass!

    Pathetic.

  53. pwillow1 says:

    One of my clients uses Klonopin for his patients with seizures. He’s a neurologist, so I figure he knows what he’s doing.

    A lot of anti-seizure drugs have other uses. There is a lot of “overlap” in neurology and psychiatry drugs. Someone will take Klonopin to treat their seizure disorder, but someone else will have it prescribed for anxiety attacks. Someone will take Neurontin for seizures, someone else will take it as a treatment for a type of nerve pain called neuralgia.

    This is often distressing to people who don’t know about the overlap that these types of drugs have. A patient may think her doctor is dismissing her pain or “thinks I’m crazy” because he is giving her a drug to treat her neuralgia, the same drug that her neighbor takes for his psychiatric problems.

    I hope that Shannon files a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy in her state about her shorted prescription, and the treatment she received from the pharmacist.

    Send a copy of the complaint to CVS Corporation Executive Offices.

    If the State gets enough complaints about this particular CVS (or CVS pharmacist) shorting people’s prescriptions, they’ll look into it.

  54. wellfleet says:

    I’ve learned to *always* question what medicine I’m getting, even if it’s for my dog. My dog has epilepsy and takes phenobarbitol to control his seizures. When I went to get his refill, the vet gave me a bottle of enormous pills, three times bigger than the ones my dog takes. I said those don’t look like what he normally takes and she said oh, it’s a different manufacturer. I look at the pill and it looks like the logo of the same company. She goes back to check and sure enough, it’s another dog’s dosage, and waaaaay more than my dog would have needed. She thanked me for questioning her, but I felt like her first response was a little flip. So now I check everything… Lucky that it’s fairly easy to see if you’re short on birth control!

  55. Beerad says:

    @ChuckECheese: My sense of humor is plenty dry, thanks. Given ADismalScience’s generally conservative approach to things, however, combined with the difficulty of discerning sarcasm in a flat display of text and a lot of comparatives to parse in his post, I may have misunderstood his intent.

    But I’m still not sure.

  56. Ben Popken says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: *~El Bandito Was Here~*

  57. hubris says:

    @trillium: Jesus, way to be a dickhead.

  58. dearabby says:

    This happened to my DH at Walgreen’s. He dropped off an Rx, then hours later came to pick it up. They said he’d already picked it up and instead of treating it as an error, acted like he was a liar & a junkie. He called the cops to file a report. Walgreens refused to pull the security tape until the police arrived.

  59. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @omerhi:
    I was thinking the same thing. However, I’m hoping trillium is refering to the better treatment one get from small, independant pharmacies.

  60. ChuckECheese says:

    @Beerad: I’ll bet his intent is to get whatever rise outta you that he can. LOL

  61. Major-General says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Yeah, pretty much judging by the CVS we decided to try after our local Walgreens actually threw away a prescription from his doctor because they didn’t wasnt to deal with it.

  62. ChuckECheese says:

    @polyeaster: And you’re saying depression isn’t a mental-health problem? Back when I did clinical social work, lessee… how do I put this… well, you know, the docs would throw pills around like candy…or like wedding rice. Sometimes you didn’t know why a patient was prescribed something. But yes, depresssed people are prescribed Klonopin, as it seems to tweak serotonin. It wouldn’t be the first-line med for depression tx; it would be adjunctive to other meds for somebody with dual-dx (substance abuse + mi) or anxiety disorder + depression.

  63. bohemian says:

    pwillow1 is correct about the drug overlap. There are a number of drugs that overlap between psychiatric, neurology, pain conditions and some auto-immune disorders. Labeling the person in the story a drug seeking addict was way out of line and sounds like a retaliatory action from the pharmacist.

    They have inventory systems, the fact that the local CVS employee told her to piss off sounds like a cover up. Someone there is probably stealing pills and either selling them or using them. I am sure the CVS main office can see that stores inventory.

    If you take anything that can be abused, sold on the street or has a high retail value check your pills before you leave.

  64. ChuckECheese says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Klonopin is amped-up Valium. Think about it–if your CNS is luded out, then you’re going to be less twitchy (convulsant), less nervous (much anxiety is somatic), and consequently happier. And benzos make you feel sorta euphoric, aka happy. Be aware that docs prescribe meds for whatever they damn well please, not only for the official label uses. This is especially common in psych.

  65. pearfreak says:

    Same things happened to me at a Buffalo CVS. I only got 20 out of my 120 pills. Good thing I randomly checked in the parking lot. The pharmacy manager said “Whoops! The phone must have rang when they were counting pills and they forgot the other 100.”
    You have a license to give out controlled substances. Whoops?

  66. azntg says:

    Good thing the nearest CVS is far from my house.

    It’s the latest pharmacy to show up at our neighborhood, but I had a bad feeling about this one. The store’s been open for a week (after months of construction) and it’s messy and disorganized. Staff was showing signs of incompetance. I visit again three months later. Same thing!

    I think the CVS chain in general likes to breed incompetance. I don’t recall stepping into a single CVS pharmacy in different neighborhoods and different cities that was decent (needless to say, I no longer step into any CVS or Duane Reade pharmacies anymore)

  67. What The Geek says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag:
    Actually, one store’s behavior IS indicative of the entire companies behavior. Why? Because large companies have set policies regarding procedure and pay rate. If a CVS pharmacist is underpaid in PA, then another CVS pharmacist is likely being underpaid in NJ. Low rate of pay is what then leads the pharmacist to do shady things like sell pills on the side. Those pills have to come from somewhere. Medication is in fact inventoried in pharmacies – so the only way to get the pills to sell is to rip off a customer, and make it look like the customer is the one in the wrong.

    Every CVS is governed by the same policies, and it’s the policies that are likely to lead to lazy, or dishonest employees. So yes, one store’s behavior is very indicative of the entire company’s behavior.

  68. MaliBoo Radley says:

    @ChuckECheese:

    How Klonopin affects you depends on your condition. For people with panic attacks, it simply allows them to live a normal, attack-free live. I take it, it does not make me eurphoric or happy, just normal. However, my husband once tried one of my pills on a night that he couldn’t sleep. The pills made him seem drunk and then he just zonked out. I take these pills every morning .. they don’t do that to me.

  69. legotech says:

    The people that fill your script at CVS are NOT pharmacists…they are minimum wage people promoted off the registers. They count the pills and dump em in the bottle and print the label and then the pharmacist looks at the bottle for a second so he can legally say he handled it.

  70. juggler314 says:

    I don’t like it when people make sweeping generalizations. There’s not a lot of churn in pharmacy techs – even at huge companies. I live in Manhattan – obviously no the place for “local” anything. For a year or two I regularly used my nearest CVS pharmacy to pick up prespcriptions. The workers there knew me on sight and were friendly. And I’m a typical non-outgoing NYer and they still knew me on sight. This CVS is located directly outside a major subway exit and certainly has a HUGE number of customers – yet still good service.

    I kind of hate making a nice post about CVS though…

  71. ideagirl says:

    @Wormfather: Brilliant, thank you

  72. byronbuckles says:

    I had a similar experience at Rite Aid. They “filled” my prescription with some pills and lost of broken chunks of pills. The number of pieces was the number of pills I should have received, except many were one-fourth the size of a whole pill. I had to speak to three people before they finally gave in and replaced the broken pieces. They kept insisting there was no way of making a mistake because a machine does the counting.

  73. The Porkchop Express says:

    @ediebeale: That and I believe very bad things can happen if you just stop taking it. Like heart issues and such. Possibly death? not sure exactly how bad.

  74. MissTic says:

    I’ve read this guy’s blog for a while now. He’s got some things to say about chain stores.
    [www.theangrypharmacist.com]

  75. Machete_Bear says:

    There’s no ‘I’ in Teamocil, at least not where you’d think…

  76. betatron says:

    “My” CVS, in Geneva Illinois, is fine, the phamacists are great, they know me by name and they’ve never screwed up a prescription of mine.

  77. ClayS says:

    @legotech:
    My wife is a pharmacist and she has often said that within her field, CVS has a poor reputation. It’s not a matter of pay; most retail pharmacists earn $50-60 an hour. The issue is very long hours, the fact many of their stores are open very late or even 24 hours. Support is often very poor, so prescriptions need to be very quickly processed, which leads to errors and little time for the pharmacist to counsel patients.

    As you said, most prescriptions are filled by pharmacy techs and your characterization of them is pretty accurate. The pharmacist however, bears full responsibility for the accuracy of the prescription, so he or she needs to check every one.

    So in choosing a pharmacy, if the pharmacist never has time to ask you if you have any questions about your meds, the staff may be so overworked that you are better off finding a better pharmacy.

  78. KleineFrau says:

    Klonopin is also used for the sleep-deprivation part of fibromyalgia. When the body does not reach deep sleep, the body does not repair itself, so pain gets worse and worse. It was very effective for me, like night and day (you never know what good sleep is until you go years without it), but could not be taken in connection with the pain killers I still needed (still had some pain, though not as severe).

    That said, I was a huge fan of the local pharmacy which was next door to my office at the time. They knew me by name, always treated me with respect, and never once suggested that the amount of “way cool drugs” I received was for anything other than my medical condition. They even did a lot of footwork in getting prescriptions refilled when I had reached the end–making sure to contact my doctor and get all of the appropriate paperwork in order.

    I even asked them about some non-traditional treatments that were legal in the state I lived in at the time, and they were very helpful in their answers.

  79. monkey1976 says:

    I see both sides here. I don’t blame the pharmacists, because more often than not, junkies will try to con them into getting more pills. They get lied to DAILY and it’s impossible to tell who’s telling the truth and who’s not.

    I also feel bad for Shannon, though, for having to suffer b/c of what others have done.

    I once accidentally spilled half my ‘script down the sink and went through the same ordeal. When you’re telling the truth and someone doesn’t believe you it really sucks.

  80. @ediebeale:
    @Beerad:

    Frame the scenario with the facts as reported:

    1.) She went home with a pill bottle.

    2.) She came back to the pharmacy and there were 60 fewer pills than their should have been.

    3.) She demanded more pills.

    4.) Klonopin is a Schedule IV Drug under the Controlled Substances Act. That means:

    (A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

    There is, quite simply, no way for CVS or you as a reader to know if she is an addict seeking a fix or a dissatisfied customer that did not receive the requisite number of pills. Surely you can understand why CVS’ default behavior in such a case is to deny further dispensation of the drug.

  81. Adam Hyland says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: It might as well be. The store’s behavior is indicative of management, period. there is no other explanation. Plenty of large organizations can and do operate effectively without treating people like garbage. It isn’t some happy accident whereby all members just end up well trained and friendly. It is a consequence of choosing good managers and having functioning oversight. If they decide to skimp on that and their pharmacist treats the patient like a junkie, then they deserve to lose business in other stores. Period.

  82. Adam Hyland says:

    @ADismalScience: Of course there is a way. If CVS ran properly, they would ask her to come in and they would show her the audits and inventory counts showing that her bottle was filled with 60 pills and that people accounted for the fill. I don’t think it is a two person verification for disposal or dispensation (like morphine, etc), but there should have been at least one signature from a person saying that they put 60 pills in her bottle.

    Then the right response is:

    “We understand that you feel you are short 30 pills, but our records clearly show that person X dispensed 60 pills to that bottle and sealed the bag. Drug Y is a Schedule IV drug, so the government requires we take certain precautions that might seem harsh or unfair to you. In that case, we are more than happy to accept this as an error on our part but if we fill the remainder of this prescription without further evidence of an inventory fault we must record this as drug seeking behavior. This does not mean you are a drug addict, and it does not constitute a police report, but it allows us to keep tabs on this file in case it happens again.”

    That is the right answer. Not “fuck off, junkie.”

  83. redhand32 says:

    Unfortunately, after released from the hospital after brain surgery I needed a RX right away and had to use our neighborhood CVS. I usually use a 90 day mail order firm (bought by CVS recently). CVS has rationed RXs frequently. And, I don’t use them much. It’s always “We’ll have it in on Thursday. Inventory problems.” I also called for drug interaction and side effect s problems and the technician told me to look it up on the Internet. And, the pharmacist had to consult the brochure included with the medication.

    I won’t use it unless I’m buying OTC meds, or I can get it cheaper elsewhere (except the people’s Republic of Wal-Mart which I never use).

  84. FightOnTrojans says:

    @wellfleet: Peanut-butter ball!

  85. scarletvirtue says:

    @pwillow1: That’s true about the anticonvulsants being used for other purposes. I’m on Trileptal and Lamictal … and Trileptal/Tegretol is also used to treat bipolar disorder and nerve pain, while the Lamictal is also used as an anti-depressant.

    And I’ve seen diuretics used to help control seizures, too.

    s/ the friendly neighborhood epileptic

  86. @BuddyGuyMontag: Yes, it absolutely is. The chain’s response is doubly so: If CVS doesn’t fire the living hell out of some people for this, they deserve an all-out boycott.

    Of course, if you’d rather get your prescriptions screwed with by incompetant people, by all means go right ahead. All part of natural selection, that.

  87. failurate says:

    @What The Geek: Pay rate is rarely an indicator of how much pride a person has or will take in their work.

    You can’t buy good work ethic. You can reward it, but can’t buy it.

  88. katman2 says:

    generally I don’t think it’s the actual pharmacist that is the jerk, it’s usally the non-pharmacist punks. I have to say the best treatment I’ve ever received on a consistent basis is at Target. I highly recommend them@nico002:

  89. esd2020 says:

    @ADismalScience: Uh, well, no way to know besides counting the pills in their inventory like she requested. Duh.

  90. I had an underfill at Walgreens (30 pills instead of 60) and didn’t notice it until two or three days later when I went to start the new bottle and went “um ……”

    So I went over, the pharmacist glanced at the Rx and the bottle, and said, “Crap, that keeps happening, they changed the bottle size so now the 60 don’t fit and the tech keeps forgetting to fill 2 bottles.” Filled me right up, sent me on my way, and put a note in my file to make sure the full 60 is there.

    I FIGURED they’d be butts about it (no way to know I wasn’t scamming for free pills), but they were great.

    (Which I suppose means the moral of the story is find a pharmacy that treats people like human beings and has SOME accountability, whether that’s a chain or a local place.)

  91. Maezels says:

    The whole insurance issue is a bit of a red flag in the original post. Clonazepam (Klonopin) is 10 cents a pill at Costco, and even at CVS, 30 pills are only $13. Not worth much of a fight over insurance reimbursement.

    A good measure of the addictiveness and euphoria index of Klonopin is the street price, which runs about $1 per mg., if you believe all the teen chatter about K-pins on the web.

    Seems like a bit of a tempest in a teapot. Given the ease of getting a replacement script and the dirt cheap price at a discount pharmacy, chalk it up to another rude chain store and take your business elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if the Shannon was gaming the system to get more than her share for resale, she’s not a very smart businessperson, or if it was for her own use, not a drug with much of a recreational buzz.

  92. @Adam Hyland:

    1.) We have no way of presuming what CVS’ inventory is. I’d imagine that there must be substantial control over dispensation and inventory control is obviously of great importance to a pharmacy. Any PHARMACISTS willing to clarify that point? I don’t think it’s safe to make assumptions of this nature.

    2.) Considering they didn’t say “fuck off, junkie” – I’d imaging that gets its own post – and we have minimal evidence as to the contents or nature of CVS’s communication with the customer, it’s unsafe to presume they said anything. The facts as reported in the OP don’t allow you to make conclusions about the response from CVS.

  93. scarletvirtue says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: I’ve had similar things happen at Walgreens, and anytime that it’s happened, they would give me what was available in their stock, then give me the remainder about 2-3 days later.

  94. scoosdad says:

    @legotech: In our local area in MA the help behind the CVS pharmacy counters are generally upper level students at the local college of pharmacy, and not promoted off the front registers. They all wear special badges showing the affiliation with the college, and a lot of them are older adults getting their pharmacist’s degree later in life.

    That said, I’ve also had issues with being shorted pills, or given only one bottle of insulin in the bag when my prescription was for two. I also can’t see any way that I’d count the pills out at the counter. Would you spread your pills out on a potentially dirty surface that might have been sneezed on by the last customer? I’ll take my chances and count them back home, thanks.

  95. Jeangenie says:

    This has happened to our family two times at different CVSes in the DC suburbs, with a controlled substance.

    I think the high turnover at some of the chains means that they hire the occasionally pharmacist/ junkie. We always check now. I still use CVS from time to time, realize that as a chain–only as good as their employees in a particular store. My neighborhood one seems to have a good, non-turning staff.

  96. BearTack says:

    I have had similar problems with CVS, though not with other drugstores. CVS also frequently had lower prices on the shelves than that which rung up on the cash registers. Store managers were aggravated rather than helpful when apprised of the situation. I avoid CVS whenever possible.

  97. AdamSelene says:

    I have exactly Zero use for Pharmacists. I cannot honestly say I have had a good experience with one.
    I have had lots of adequate experiences, i.e. they did their job correctly, but the many bad experiences that I had completely overrides it.

    Wrong drug, wrong strength, wrong amount, changed to generic despite specifically stated fill as prescribed, not changed to generic when specifically written as generic substitution allowed and they were out of the brand name so I get to wait another 40 mins one I get there because they wanted to check if it was ok to substitute but couldn’t be bother to call me and ask instead of waiting till I got there.

    At this point I despise Pharmacists and their attitudes, and their monopoly on distributing medicine through state licensing.

    I will dance with joy the day that the Doctor hands me my prescription with a bar code, I let the robopharm 2000 scan it and my medicine pops out in about 5mins with insurance taken care of.

    Don’t even start with me that they provide a valuable service as a check and balance, etc. You can be replaced with an oracle database, and if I want a second opinion, I ask another Doctor.

    Good riddance.

  98. mike says:

    @ADismalScience: Agreed. Some CVS’s have bad pharmasists. Seriously, it looks like they are still in school. (And I’m fairly certain that you don’t need a MD or NP license to put pills in a bottle.)

    But some are great! There is a CVS in the Pentagon. It’s just him; no one else. He’s great. He actually remembers my name…and more importantly, my medication.

  99. Concerned_Citizen says:

    What did people do 10 years ago? It seems like everyone has a medical condition that requires pills these days.

  100. 5h17h34d says:

    The CVS near me refused to fill my vicodan prescription after I had a load of titanium installed in my neck. Claimed they didn’t carry that drug. It was 95°F outside and I was wearing shorts and a tank top. Even had a huge bandage over the incision which was still oozing.

    I suspect I looked like something negative to the old fart pharmacist. When I got the prescrition back from him I told him what I thought of him and left.

    I’m sure he never heard anyone rail on him like that before.

  101. Beerad says:

    @ADismalScience: Frankly, on those facts I don’t think the proper response is “we’re tagging you in our database as a potential addict” with whatever additional hassle that entails (enhanced scrutiny, delays in filling prescriptions while we double-check with the doctor, whatever). There are a vast array of possible explanations for the scenario as you presented, many of which include CVS screwing up a prescription. But the problem is that as described here, apparently the only possible position for CVS is “No, no, you’re totally a junkie.”

    CVS is not law enforcement — they are part of the health care system in this country. If they can’t keep track of their pills, that is a problem THEY need to solve, not the hapless consumer who is left unable to obtain needed medication because CVS thinks it is infallible.

    Simple facts that might help your version would be things like “5. CVS pulled its records verifying the prescription was double-checked for accuracy and confirmed the customer had received a full prescription.” (similar to Adam Hyland’s idea); “6. CVS reviewed video footage of the pharmacy area to confirm that a pharmacy tech had not inadvertently filled the prescription incorrectly.”; “7. There was anything else at all that might suggest this customer was anyone other than someone who had been shorted pills by the pharmacy.” But none of those things exist here.

    I understand your concern about drug addicts (well, sort of — I don’t think that pharmacies should act as private DEA agents or think this is where the cost of enforcement should be borne), but what if they had handed out the wrong pills entirely? Is the proper answer “well, we’re concerned you might be an addict, so tough luck! Good luck with those seizures in the meantime!” What if it was heart medication? “Well, we’re sure you’ll get it sorted out before your next infarction! Heh, heh!”

  102. bairdwallace says:

    My girlfriend was at Walgreens, where they botched her prescription twice in a row. On the third visit, they got the right meds, but in the wrong amount, causing my (100 lb) gf to mutter “this place makes me homicidal”. When she returned to pick up the corrected amount, the manager informed her she was no longer welcome, as she had threatened to kill an employee.

  103. Said Not says:

    mmmm kolonopins make me feel warm and fuzzy in side. hehe :D

    i didnt realize it was an anti-convulsant. i just simply abused it for its heroin effect.

  104. Phipps6505 says:

    A few months ago Consumerist pointed out that warehouse clubs like Sam’s and Costco’s generally have a lower price on prescriptions. Even though our prescription drug coverage is good, my wife and I decided to try Sam’s out. We were pleasantly surprised that they were less busy and generally very helpful when getting our prescriptions filled. Around here the CVS stores and RiteAids, and even Walmart are generally packed. We’ve found that going to Sam’s Club is usually a lot less stressful than dealing with the mob at the other places.

    The one time we did have an issue – the doctor’s office called a refill in for my wife but gave the wrong last name, the pharmacist corrected it for us before we even arrived. (She knew the call was coming, when she heard the message, she called the doctor’s office back and said, “don’t you mean….?”) And we don’t have stock issues either. Both WalMart and the local grocery pharmacy have disappointed us on that score.

  105. sophiecat says:

    I do inventories for a living–including pharmacies. Most of the bottles (the cheap drugs) are counted as either half or full. So a bottle of 100 pills that has 30 taken out would be considered a half bottle. Same with a bottle of 100 that only has 10 left–it’s still considered a half bottle.

    The only drugs that are counted more accurately are the really expensive ones, and even those are only counted by tenths, generally just eyeballed by the pharmacist. Rarely are they counted individually by hand.

    As far as I know they don’t have pill by pill records, but I could be wrong.

  106. Ass_Cobra says:

    @AdamSelene:

    You do realize that a lot of the issues you have had are based on poorly filled out prescriptions by your prescribing doctor. Additionally, since when is it wrong to ask someone about their preference in medication. You wouldn’t believe how many times pharmacists are given crap by customers when they substitute a generic for brand when it says it’s okay to do so on the prescription. People in the US are brand concious if you hadn’t noticed.

    Don’t even start with me that they provide a valuable service as a check and balance, etc. You can be replaced with an oracle database, and if I want a second opinion, I ask another Doctor.

    I’m not sure what you mean with the second opinion nonsense. I don’t really see pharmacists offering up a diagnosis of your condition. Most of the time if they have a question about a prescription it has to do with potential intereactions from other medications you’re taking or questions about the doseage. Usually they don’t ask you they call your doctor to make sure. If you had any idea how many prescription errors are stopped by pharmacists per day you’d probably change your tune.

  107. 00exmachina says:

    For the OP:
    If you are really want to ‘take the issue seriously’ instead of just vent. Talk to your insurance company, they can investigate the issue from their end. If CVS really did short you and they reported filling the perscription for 60 tablets to your insurance company they (the insurance company) can go after them for insurance fraud.
    The treat of that will probably force cvs to go over their records to verify the dispensed amount since they will not do it for you.

  108. Adam Hyland says:

    @ADismalScience: Well, I can say that there are legal requirements for inventory control as you go through the schedule of controlled substances. I can also say that a large organization like that ought to have some sort of audit control (if only for liability purposes) of ANYTHING that could be construed as a controlled substance. I don’t think it is a matter of if but what.

  109. rolla says:

    the same thing happened to me. My doctor said 90 and they only gave me 60. cheap sh*ts!

  110. What The Geek says:

    @failurate: I disagree. I spent a long time in retail, and the very simple equation I saw was that companies that paid better, and had policies in place to take good care of their employees attracted employees that did a good job.

    I myself fall into this trap a bit. I worked for a company that will remain nameless that treated me like management, and gave me all the responsibilities that would come with it without giving me a promotion or a raise. I dealt with it for a while figuring it would get better eventually. It never did. So, I went job hunting, and eventually left. I was one of their more knowledgeable, helpful, and more motivated employees. When those efforts weren’t compensated, I looked to a company that would pay me for the job I was doing. The people who stay in the underpaying job either can’t do better, or have stopped trying. These are the people likely to stoop to shady practices (or at very least laziness) when they feel they’re being underpaid and under appreciated. A company’s policies directly effect the type of people who work for them. Companies like CVS have policies and pay rates that don’t promote enthusiasm for one’s job – therefore, situations like the one described by the OP and many other articles on the consumerist occur.

  111. jimconsumer says:

    This kind of thing seems typical these days, and it’s unfortunate. I ruptured my eardrum last year and was in excruciating pain, unable to focus on anything but the pain, unable to sleep, etc. The E.R. docs prescribed me hydrocodone, which I understand is often resold or abused by addicts. Well, I’m not one and in fact I’ve never even had the stuff before now (never had pain this bad), but after I used the first 10 days worth of pills and needed more, the doc I saw for a follow up refused to prescribe them. Said I “didn’t need them” even after verifying my eardrum was still ruptured and infected. How the fuck does he know what kind of pain relief *I* need?!

    I had to go back to the E.R. doctor who originally treated me. He was more than happy to continue my prescription and had unkind words for the jerk follow-up doc.

    This event pissed me off enough as it were, but if a PHARMACY started ignoring the orders of my doctor and thinking they can decide what I do or don’t need, oh boy… they’d regret it after I served their head on a silver platter to the local media (figuratively, people.. settle down).

  112. theMatrix says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Isn’t this off topic? Her problem is they misfilled her medicine. Who cares what the medicine was. That is a public danger for a pharmacy to misfill prescriptions by over-filling, under-filling or in any other way. They should be turned into the agency that monitors pharmacy’s licensing and revoke it if need be.

    It sounds like she is not the only person this has happened to. Wait until someone dies by giving them a wrong dosage of Oxycontin or something like that. Then someone will do something. But, they always wait for someone to die first.

  113. MsFeasance says:

    @Concerned_Citizen: I believe that people who had epilepsy before anticonvulsants existed were considered to be possessed by the devil or believed to be mentally damaged, suffered seizures they couldn’t stop having that caused them brain damage, and weren’t allowed to marry or have children according to the laws of several states.

  114. scarletvirtue says:

    @RowdyRoddyPiper: It’s definitely true that people are brand conscious – even with their meds. Any time I’ve had a new prescription, and the doctor has indicated that generic is acceptable, I’m usually asked if I’m okay with the generic (which I usually am – it’s saving money).

    Years ago, I had a doctor ask me if I’d prefer to take Prozac or Paxil for my depression. Seriously.

    @MsFeasance: That’s true. We were considered to be possessed by demons – or, in the Middle Ages, the auras preceding seizures were thought to be divine inspiration.

    And thankfully, the laws have changed, and we are allowed to marry and have children (if we so desire). I still remember seeing information from 20+ years ago that advised epileptics against using stoves, taking baths or swimming, because of the concerns of having seizures while doing those things. And did I mention the paranoia over riding “risky” park attractions – i.e.; rollercoasters.? Okay … so that was probably just my mom.

    //thread hijacking

  115. Buran says:

    @jimconsumer: I take birth control for a couple of reasons, and if I ever get some guy telling me he doesn’t feel like filling my prescription, believe you me he and my pharmacy are going to be on the wrong end of a few nasty complaints. You’re not my doctor.

    You’re my pharmacist, or his/her assistant. Do your job and don’t tell me what I do and don’t need.

    Fortunately, no one has been dumb enough to try htat on me.

  116. chatterboxwriting says:

    @bohemian: That’s good advice. I get treated like a junkie all the time because I take Percocet and Flexeril (Percocet for excruciating pain from inflamed abdominal adhesions/prolapsed bladder/prolapsed uterus and Flexeril for back and neck aches related to my Spina Bifida). I have been shorted before and had them really question me when I pointed out the error.

    Funny thing is, I get 30 Percocet at a time and sometimes I don’t get another 30 for 4 or 5 months. I only take them when I am absolutely in pain that Ibuprofen, a hot bath, and other treatments won’t help, yet they act suspicious.

  117. lestat730 says:

    I’ve got to say I’ve been using a local CVS to fill my prescriptions for about 2 years now and have never once encountered a single problem. They’re always discreet, friendly, and helpful to me. Also, they are open more hours then mom+pop drug stores, have an awesome automated phone refill system, and a drive through drop off/pickup! I’d chalk this up to just that one store who obviously has careless or dishonest employees working the pharmacy.

  118. edrebber says:

    If the OP paid with a credit card, then they could dispute the charge with their credit card company.

    I guess we all need to demand that the cashier spill out the pills and verify the count before paying. Also need ask for documentation proving the pills are really the medication the doctor prescribed.

  119. Rabbigrrl says:

    Kolonopin isn’t an anti-convulsant, it’s an anti-anxiety med, and crack and heroin users love to take it. Nonetheless, most people who take it don’t abuse it, and the CVS was WAY out of line.

  120. XTC46 says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: It is both. Many anti siezure drugs are also user as anti-depressants. (or is it the other way around?) Im A manic Depressant, but refuse to take drugs for behavior modification, and i remember discussing the history of anti-depressants with my doctor once.

  121. MsFeasance says:

    @scarletvirtue: Yes, I sure am glad that I’m allowed to get married now, too, although there’s a crap-load of fearmongering about women like me having children of our own.
    People are a lot less accommodating, though, when someone with epilepsy has a seizure while driving.

  122. cadet526 says:

    @Beerad:
    I worked in retail pharmacy for 10 years before I went into managed care. When you are counting everything by hand, there is going to be errors. Granted, they treated her poorly, but I can understand why it happened. Most medications are once a day and most insurances only cover 30 days at a time which makes 75% of what you count a day 30. The key to the pharmacist is she only got 30. To me that shows that someone didn’t check the label and counted the usual 30. In this case an actual counting error would probably result in a random number like 51 being dispensed. Klonopin has multiple uses and is a drug people get hooked to. I’ve seen a lot of drug seekers in my time, but epileptic patients are NEVER on just one medication so one quick look at her profile would have shown she is epileptic based on her other meds which says to me she probably isn’t lying. As usual with most CVS pharmacists, they won’t take the time to research a little further. There only two kinds of pharmacists who work at CVS, burned out (they force overtime and no breaks) and/or incompetent. Every pharmcist I know who was fired from somewhere ended up at CVS. If you have a pulse and a license, you have a job.

  123. cadet526 says:

    @Buran:

    I can’t help to comment on this one. Most MD’s don’t know shit about meds (and nurses are worst of all). But, people should seek out a good pharmacist like they would a good doctor. You wouldn’t believe the idiotic prescriptions I have seen. I’ve had MD’s prescribe cough syrup with codeine to people with codeine allergies (just one random exmaple of many). The problem is most private practice docs are to full of themselves to ask for an opinion. Total flip side – in a hospital a lot of docs don’t even prescribe, they just diagnose and leave the medication decision to the pharmacists.

  124. nardo218 says:

    @BuddyGuyMontag: Of all the things Klonapin does, not causing depression is the last. It’s a barbiturate, which is a depressant. A “downer.” I was taking it for my anxiety and it was great, except I gained 25 pounds and couldn’t concentrate on a complicated task.

    It isn’t an anticonvulsant, I don’t know where consumerist got that. It’s sometimes given to very sick people (bipolar, schizophrenic) who are in a mania or anxiety attack, to calm them down. Sometimes those patients also take anticonvulsants, but that’s a pretty big leap…

  125. nardo218 says:

    @esd2020: No, it’s not. Epileptics take it =/= anticonvulsant. It’s a benzo.

  126. htrout13 says:

    I need to speak up for the techs… As a former pharm tech (certified) and a current trainer of future pharm techs (who will be certified), there’s a lot more to being an actual pharm tech than just counting pills… And a good tech is double checking their work before it goes to the pharmacist.

    The problem is that retail pharmacies don’t want to pay for good techs… and pharmacists have way too much on their plates. Even the techs I’m training are getting offered jobs for just over minimum wage – the same as the kids walking off the street with no experience. Which just sucks.

    As for inventory… If this had been a Schedule II controlled drug – the pharmacist would have been able to verify the number of pills in the safe. Anything else is on the shelf. Doing inventory in a pharmacy means counting full bottles – not individual pills in open bottles.

    And klonopin is an anti-convulsant that has been re-marketed for anxiety, panic and depression. Lots of drugs start out as one thing and then begin to be used for other purposes (look at Viagra – it was developed as a heart med; interesting side effect resulted in it being marketed for an entirely new purpose!).

    When in doubt – make sure you’re talking to the Pharmacist – not the tech – they’re the ones legally responsible for making sure that what leaves the pharmacy is correct, and to answer any questions you may have about any drugs or prescription…don’t bother going to your doctor – they really don’t know!

  127. nardo218 says:

    @pwillow1: That doesn’t mean that YOU know why he prescribes it. It is a BENZO. Anticonvulstant is a class of drugs. Antipsychotics is a class. As is antidepressants. Benzodiazepines are yet another class of drugs. They are not part of the anticonvulsant class, related to them, or anything else they you can think of. They are a DIFFERENT CLASS OF DRUGS.

  128. nardo218 says:

    @MsFeasance: And there was always suicide.

  129. nardo218 says:

    @xtc46: Neither. Anticonvulsants can also be given as mood stabilizers for bipolar. Antidepressants are given for depression.

  130. kellycu says:

    My CVS pharmacist is wonderful, knows me by name and sight and fills all of my prescriptions in a timely and efficient manner. I have cancer and I am on large doses of pain meds. What I have to worry about it my doctor and my insurance company. I have always trusted my pharmacist. Trust me, I feel your pain, and I do not wish to decrease your frustration. I just have difficulties at different stages. My insurance company won’t pay for x amount of pills; my doc won’t sanction me using x amount of meds. It’s a fight every time. I’ve been sick for ten years and I feel that by now, I’ve figured out what is right for me. Someone somewhere along the line is going to say something about it, but I will say that my personal pharmacist has NEVER done that to me.

    I know the frustration you are feeling; I guess I’m trying to say stay on top of it on ALL levels. Insurance, docs, pharmacists–they are all doing their jobs, but far be it for me to actually know what is best for me. Good luck, and stay vigilant. ALWAYS count pills and always be your own best advocate. If you get overwhelmed by the full-time job that is managing a chronic condition in HMOmerica, get someone else to be your advocate every once in awhile.

    Best of luck.

  131. autoclavicle says:

    @AdamSelene: I will dance with joy the day that the Doctor hands me my prescription with a bar code, I let the robopharm 2000 scan it and my medicine pops out in about 5mins with insurance taken care of.

    They had a vending machine-type thing in the lobby of the hospital I went with my boyfriend to. After he was dealt with by a doctor, they gave him a sheet of paper and told him there was a machine in the lobby that would fill it. You entered in a special code pertaining to your “case,” your birth date to verify identity, selected which of your prescriptions you wanted filled, and out they came. It was the most amazing thing ever. My favorite part was that it tried to up-sell him something lame that anybody can get OTC when he was filling prescriptions for 600mg pills of ibuprofen and vicodin.

  132. AdamSelene says:

    @RowdyRoddyPiper:

    No, the issues were due to incompetent pill pushers, and a usually understaffed and overworked staff.

    The running joke about the Doctors handwriting as an excuse, hunh? Well, I could read the script myself, and it’s a long was to get from seeing a written Hydrocodone and dispensing Diovan.

    Fill the damn script as written, including honoring if specified that generic can be substituted. If the patient has a problem with the generic replacement, point to the little checkmark on the script and educate them that these things must be discussed with your Doctor ahead of time.

    You ask “when is it wrong to ask someone about their preference in medication”.

    The issue wasn’t asking about choice, it was despite the script saying that substitutions were fine, them waiting until I came back to the store (4 hours later) go looking for my script. Can’t find it. Then find that it’s sitting waiting for the Pharmacist to ‘approve it’. Waiting 30+ mins as the Pharmacist finishes a personal phone call (I could overhear) then come over and tell me that they had it set aside because the brand name wasn’t in stock and they wanted to check with me about the generic, when asked why didn’t they call me ahead of time, respond that they’ve been too busy (for 4 hours?) and then tell me it’ll take 30mins to fill it.

    The above is one example, I’ve went through 4-5 different variations on this.

    The ‘second opinion nonsense’ as you put it, since you obviously know the situations I am talking about, has to do with a particular Pharmacist with delusions of grandeur who decided to review the scripts that I had dropped off, and start suggesting alternate treatments. But least you feel this ‘nonsense’ was an isolated case, I was also referencing another Pharmacist from a different company and city for that matter, that had an opinion that the dosage schedule prescribed by my Doctor was too high.

    Lastly, please envision some very nasty comments sent your way in response to your “If you had any idea how many prescription errors are stopped by pharmacists per day you’d probably change your tune.”

    The supposed good (cite please) does not outweigh the bad, in my opinion. The same result could be handled by centralized, computerized database. It would be more up to date, more accurate, would keep it’s opinions and ‘morals’ to itself, and the human factor could still be factored in as a check and balance strictly for ‘red flag’ scenarios in a centralized method. Even that could be replaced with an automated “script pending consult Physician” system that could be put in place. Have it as an app in the Doctors office. The receptionist/nurse brings it to the the Doctors attention with description of conflict. They can then release or hold till customer contact.

    Same as what the Pharmacist would do ‘calling the Doctor’ but would be more efficient, could be parallelized, instead of the pharmacist sitting on a phone waiting for hours to get a hold of someone, etc.

    Pharmacist are unnecessary other than specialized compounding and adviser for OTC drugs and remedies.

    This is the modern age. Once, long ago, when a pharmacist saw maybe 3-4 people a day on average, and everybody did not have 2-3 re-occurring prescriptions, taken every day, etc. they filled a purpose.

    The are outdated like the job of Footman for carriages, they need to be scaled back to their specialized nitch and let us move on. We are starting to get there with the mail-order companies, but that is not a best case solution, it’s just the solution that can get around the current monopoly and laws. See how they fight it, how they come up with reasons why it’s inferior.

    They know that the demand is there that they can’t fill with their methods and services, and modernization is the death blow to their career.

    Fine with me.

  133. Beerad says:

    @cadet526: Thanks for weighing in — again, the problem isn’t that they made a mistake, I understand it happens. It’s the “obviously we can’t be wrong, so we’ll just assume you’re a criminal” attitude that’s the problem.

    I have a friend who’s a research pharmacist — smart guy. It’s great to ask him about any prescribed drug; he’ll go into extreme detail (maybe almost too much, the guy loves his job) about how it works, what sort of side effects/interactions it has, and any other tidbits he knows. Problem is of course, he’s not the person behind the counter filling prescriptions and for the average consumer it’s nearly impossible to find someone so helpful and knowledgable to work with.

  134. Enola #### says:

    Five days ago I picked up my monthly prescription for Alprazolam (an anti-anxiety drug) at Target, and the pharmacist noted that they had run out and could only fill half the amount. I told him that was fine (I had enough for 15 days) and that I’d return the following weekend for the balance.

    Yesterday, I received the remainder of my medication via overnight UPS! That was a nice gesture. Target costs a bit more than Walmart (don’t know how it stacks up against prices at CVS) but the service is WAY better.

  135. htrout13 says:

    @AdamSelene: Just a few comments on your pontification…

    In some states (most) you have to (by law) dispense the generic if it is available. The only way to get the brand is if the pharmacist writes ‘Brand Medically Necessary’ on the script – sometimes checking that little box doesn’t count. If for some reason the pharmacy doesn’t have the generic avialable, they have to get your (or the doctor’s) permission to fill with the brand…If it’s filled without your permission and you’re slapped with a higher co-pay, guess who gets yelled at…that’s right – the tech!

    And although you may have been able to read your script – it’s possible the pharmacist wasn’t. It is common for pharmacists (and doctors) to consult with each other if they are approached with a situation that sets of a warning flag. It’s for your safety – not to inconvenience you directly – honest!!!

    The pharmacist is not an outdated profession. They know more about the drugs you take than the doctor who prescribed them. They know not only what they do, but how they do it and the potential side effects and interactions. Try keeping all of that in your head and see how good you are. Only pharmacists are licensed to dispense medications. Even in mail order pharmacies – a pharmacist reviews every script before it leaves the building, ensuring a correct script.

    And yes, the pharmacist catches mistakes – I witnessed this often – as the tech who prepared the script may have grabbed the wrong drug or entered the instructions wrong. It happens all the time. Unfortunately, I used to catch my pharmacists mistakes (he fell into the ‘bad pharmacist’ category) and correct them before they were given to the patient. (and yes, he verified the correct script before it left the pharmacy)

    To say that the pharmacist is out-dated is false. To say that the majority of retail pharmacy staff is overworked is true. To say that doctors are more aware of drug interactions than pharmacists is false. To say that the entire function of a pharmacy staff could be replaced with computers is very false. Do computers and automated fillers make the job easier – of course! But can they replace the knowledge and experience of a Doctor of Pharmacy – I don’t believe so.

  136. scarletvirtue says:

    @MsFeasance: I made a decision years ago to not drive – even if my seizures are fully controlled. I just don’t want to take any chances, and I’m not just saying that as an insurance agent!

    Of course, my opinion that perhaps epileptics should not drive, or at least have an established span of time seizure-free before driving, is good for stirring up a total shitstorm in a group. I’ve just seen a friend – and heard of others – total their cars and/or seriously injure people because of having a seizure behind the wheel.

  137. LUV2CattleCall says:

    I could see how one might be a bit sensitive to count all those pills in front of an audience, who is growing more and more pissed off at the delay…

    This somewhat reminds me of the Kansas City doc who off’ed a ton of his patients by diluting their chemotherapy drugs and pocketing millions, only without the ill-intent. It’s worrying that they can’t track their own inventory. Isn’t that a huge f-up for a place that deals with Class-II drugs?

  138. Buran says:

    @cadet526: Good point, but what I was trying to say is that this medicine is something I discussed with my doctor and we talked about the side effects that are beneficial and not, and the various types available, and settled on a good choice for me. To have a pharmacist get in my face and say “I don’t want to fill that prescription, I shouldn’t have to” is going in my face and in my doctor’s. That’s saying “I don’t think you should be taking this,” which is not the pharmacist’s job. The pharmacist’s job is to make sure I’m not taking any other medication that could interfere with it and warn me of potential complications of that type.

    NOT to give me a hard time simply because of the type of medication I’m taking. And a pharmacist who does such a thing is not a good pharmacist and, if pulling that kind of thing on his/her customers, does not need to be employed as a pharmacist. I can and will lodge complaints and demand that the pharmacist do his/her job, up to and including filing complaints with the corporate office, if applicable, of his/her employer.

    If a pharmacist thinks they have the authority to decide what patients should/shouldn’t be prescribed, then they can go ahead and become an M.D. who does have that authority.

  139. Buran says:

    @MsFeasance: As they should be. Epilepsy is a known danger — I know of an incident where an epileptic made no effort whatsoever to stop and rammed a car driven by a pregnant woman while it was stopped at a stop sign. The epileptic (who knew he had a history of losing control and causing wrecks) survived. The two in the other car didn’t.

    Blame idiots like him who think they can keep driving for your woes.

  140. I’ve had the SAME problem with CVS. They tell me “insurance will only fill 30 pills”. It’s so weird. Who can we call at CVS?

  141. evixir says:

    I don’t understand why more people don’t count their pills after they receive them. “I don’t have time to bother with that!” they wail, but how much time do you have to drive all the way back when you discover some are missing? How much time do you have to spend arguing with the pharmacist/assistant about the missing pills?

    Take five freaking minutes out of your busy life and COUNT YOUR PILLS before you leave the establishment. Seriously, it won’t hurt you. Five minutes. COUNT THE PILLS. Don’t trust that they count them right every time. You’re just asking for a headache.

  142. jenl1625 says:

    @ADismalScience:

    There is, quite simply, no way for CVS or you as a reader to know if she is an addict seeking a fix or a dissatisfied customer that did not receive the requisite number of pills. Surely you can understand why CVS’ default behavior in such a case is to deny further dispensation of the drug.

    Actually, the customer asked them to check their inventory. It should NOT have been impossible for them to compare how many of those particular pills they *should* have to how many they *actually* had, but they refused to do so.

    Bad customer service, bad medicine/pharmacy practice. Possibly fraud – she paid for x pills, and only received 1/2x.

  143. jenl1625 says:

    @white trash mom: That “insurance will only pay for 30 pills” is a different issue. Basically, your insurance has decided that in order to save money, they are going to limit how much of a particular drug you need in fairly arbitrary ways. “You can have 30 pills at xx dosage of yy drug in a 30 day period.”

    CVS can’t change that – any other pharmacist would tell you the same thing. Your options are to either pay the difference or see if your doctor is willing to fight through the insurance company’s authorization process for you to have more of the drug.

  144. AHammer says:

    Considering Kolonopin is a controlled substance with the DEA,therefore they must keep records,CVS should have been able to account for the pills that were missing.

  145. stinkypoopie says:

    Ok, I saw a lot of people comment about CVS, some commented on CVS’s in Bergen County NJ. I can tell you that the CVS pharmacy chain uses their internal policy to circumvent NJ Law. First at any CVS pharmacy you are instantly but on a list of pill-seekers if you even dare to have the animosity to refill you’re prescription for a controlled substance early. I take Suboxone to treat withdrawal symptoms from valid long term use of various opiates. I normally use Walgreens for all of my prescriptions but I have come to know some pharmacy techs personally and I did not want them to know about my Suboxone treatment so I went to a CVS in Rochelle Park, NJ. Their staff is a joke. First, the prescription read take 1 tablet 3 times daily, but my doctor gave me 100 tablets instead of 90, he instructed me to take and extra tablet if I were to have symptoms a couple days of the week. The pharmacist said it is against internal policy to dispense more than 90 tablets, against NJ law! I filled the script on 3.07.2008 and tried to refill the script one week early, before 4.07.2008. Instructing the pharmacist that I had originally been denied the requested amount of 100, and had to take more than 3 a day some days as each day is different. The pharmacist was very rude and suggested that I was attempting to do something illegal with the medication. So on 4.01.2008 I ran out of the medication and thought I would be able to get an emergency supply because CVS told me I would be permitted to possess my controlled substance script on Friday 4.4.2008. I just got back from that joke of a Pharmacy only to be in withdrawals and without my medication. One of the technicians said that they follow CVS internal policy. At which time I instructed them they should at least give me the 10 tablets they originally denied me on 3.07.2008. I will never use CVS again, they are the ones doing something sketchy with their patients controlled substances.

  146. ajc1980 says:

    I would like to say that I hear many of these complaints a day. I myself work in a pharmacy. It isnt as easy as drop off RX count check and pick-up. MANY factors fall into reasons that you are unable to pick up your medication. There are laws that a pharmacist must follow.With reguards to controlled substances, They must be dispensed as written by the doctor.Unfortunetly,the huge hurdle is the insurance companies themselves. Your RX may say your prescribed 60 pills but your policy may only cover 30. So what is one to do if you take 2 pills a day? Usually companies attempt an authorization from your insurance company to get them to pay for your RX that you need. Alot of people dont understand that. Most of the time authorizations take a few days, which is unfortunate. The only other option one has is paying cash for the RX. You have to understand that without following certain mandated laws the pharmacist could lose his or her licence. Thus were back to how horrible medical care is in the US. I would love to never have to deal with insurance policy maximums and drug seekers, but the way the world is today you must be skeptical.

  147. Kat says:

    Wal-Mart just shorted me 8 Klonopin pills. Of course since I discovered this after I got home, there’s nothing I can do. From now on I’m counting my pills.

  148. Oisian says:

    Just so you know….not all Techs are ‘promoted from cashier’ morons. Nationally Certified Technicians have to study and take exams AND re-certify every 2 years with 20 hours of continuing education which includes one hour of Pharmacy law. Worried about techs…their Certifications as well as their state Licenses should be on display. go to http://www.PTCB.org for the information and to check your tech..they are listed by state. Not saying that customer service is better from qualified techs, just correcting a misconception.

  149. guinpen says:

    All pharmacies are required to double-count all class 3 medications like klonopin and acknowledge in some way that they did when the prescription is dispensed. Inventory is not a reliable way to check whether your prescription has the correct number because when you have 30 bottles of one medication, and numerous opened ones, it takes a very long time to count them all, considering pills are dropped and lost all the time and inventory is never perfect, whether your specific personal prescription is off by 30 could mean anybody’s is. Inventory is kept for the purpose of keeping medications in stock, the only pill-by-pill inventory that is kept in scrutiny is for class 2 medications.

    It’s not just that their insurance wouldn’t cover the medication, the fact is, if you say you’re shorted on most medications they can give you some no problem, they’re single-counted and mistakes happen, but for this medication it’s double counted and pharmacies can’t just give it out in good faith, it’s ILLEGAL for the pharmacy to just give it out. Counting them at the pharm is fine, but you get what you get when it comes to class 2-3 meds.

  150. lynn4572 says:

    @sinister-dexter due to the hippa law in place, cvs has no right to legally NOT talk to you concerning that client if the relase was there. and those pills are pretty commmon so i don’t understand cvs’s statement “pretty hard to get”. that’s why i go to walmart.

  151. Selera says:

    okay 1st off if the pills were missing they should have done a pill audit, and if they were taken all the tech are on LIVE feed camera so if they were taken hiding 30 pills would be hard while having live video done. Second depending on your states or city laws some states will let you buy controls after insurance some not. In my state and for people on medicaid they are not allowed to do this. BUT, if they call your doctor and get an ok and write it on your script for future reffernce if asked it then it is okay, which really makes no sence to me but okay… Now as far as the counting thing on her drug I would ask the pharmacy to double count then have the tech that filled it place there initials on the bottle if there is a problem then they know who to talk to and be able to watch on camera to easy your mind on shorting.