"Why Is CVS Automatically Refilling My Prescriptions?"

Bill wants to know why CVS interprets a prescription with refills as a prescription that should definitely be refilled.

It took three calls from CVS’ automated reminder service for me to realize what was going on: CVS Pharmacy was refilling our prescriptions without our asking for them to be refilled, and then their automated dialer was calling us to notify us that we had a prescription waiting. Nobody in my family requested to have a prescription refilled, yet three times CVS called us to tell us to come and pick up our prescription.

Bill is not impressed by this service, which CVS calls “Ready Fill” and which is intended as a convenience both for the customer and the pharmacy. He writes,

When my wife went in to our local Washington, DC CVS to ask about this she was told 1) a lot of people are complaining about CVS’ auto-notification system, 2) there’s nothing they can do about the robo-caller since it’s a system that the company, not this store, initiated, and 3) the doctor wrote these prescriptions with instructions that they be automatically refilled. Say what? Our doctor did no such thing ñ he didn’t write the prescriptions with instructions that they automatically be refilled every 30 days. (One of the medicines was a seasonal allergy medication that obviously wouldn’t be refilled in the winter.)

We couldn’t find much information about Ready Fill on the CVS website, but this post on a student doctor forum suggests that it’s opt-in, but that a lot of times the program isn’t sufficiently explained to the customer when he opts in. (We imagine it’s also possible that some CVS pharmacies opt in their customers automatically, but we hope that’s not the case.) There are also problems with unwanted refills when a prescription changes. Here’s the forum post:

If a patient has a monthly prescription that has refills, s/he is eligible for readyfill. This means that in our system we will automatically fill the prescription without us having to call the patient or the patient having to call us to ask for a refill. Basically a few days before the patients prescription runs out, our computer will tell us to fill the rx so all the patient has to do is come in and pick it up. Readyfill is meant to help people who sometimes don’t call in their refills till the last minute or people who sometimes just forget to call their refill in.

But truthfully readyfill, from what i have noticed, brings up more problems than it solves. I get a lot of people who say they want readyfill but 1 month later they’re angry/confused as to why they are getting an automated call about a prescription being ready that they never called in. Also if there is a dosage change, or a prescription is no longer being taken, or a patient has changed pharmacies, someone has to notify us to take it off or that rx will still be on readyfill and we’ll get the angry/confused calls.

So here’s the deal: if you get your drugs at CVS and don’t want the Ready Fill experience, pay them a visit and ask to have it removed/turned off. If you like the convenience of not having to remember to get your prescriptions refilled, don’t forget to contact them if the prescription changes before you’re out of refills. And if they won’t or can’t turn it off and you don’t want it, take your prescriptions somewhere else.

(Photo: Lee Nachtigal)