Rite Aid Pharmacy Is A Biatch

Nick writes:

    I recently had a horrible, horrible experience at my local Rite Aid when I went in to fill a prescription. I won’t rehash the details here as they are thoroughly captured in the email (attached) I sent to their, ahem, Customer Service department… a month ago. Basically, the pharmacist wanted to play doctor and deny my prescriptions and when I called her on the fact that, uh, she couldn’t do this she got downright mean. I did get a response from a CS rep saying (essentially) “Oh crap this is serious. I’ve sent it to the Regional Manager. They will contact you ASAP.” and then, nothing. This was a month ago.

    So anyway, if you see fit, we can all shake our collective fists at Rite Aid. Not that it’s a secret that they suck or anything.

    Anyway, after this I took my prescription to the CVS that just opened up down the street and even though they were jammin’ with customers (I suppose there is a reason for that, eh?), they took exceptional care of me. Funny how you really appreciate some compassion when you’re hock-up-blood sick, huh?

Inside, the complaint letter Nick wrote Rite Aid, in all its golden, speaking-for-itself glory.

    “I am writing to express my utter disbelief in the abysmal level of service I received while attempting to fill a prescription at your Store #5548 (18444 Plummer Street, Northridge, CA 91325).

    I have been suffering from a rather painful lung infection for the past month. During this ordeal I have been awakened most nights coughing up bloody sputum, which I then choke on, leading to little or no rest and thereby greatly increasing my recovery time. Not the most pleasant of circumstances, I can assure you. Upon seeing my doctor (9/5/2006) I was given a combination of antibiotics intravenously as well as two separate prescriptions for Tussinex, a cough medication, and Cipro, a strong antibiotic.

    Immediately following my visit with my GP, I went to my local Rite Aid pharmacy to fill them both (roughly 6:15 PM, 9/5/2006). The first problem I encountered was with the complete lack of attention the pharmacy staff paid to the customers. There was no one in line, save for me, yet the pharmacy staff were preoccupied with standing around each other chatting about what they planned on watching on television that evening. One woman looked over at me multiple times, making eye contact but not once acknowledging my presence. This went on for approximately 5 minutes until she walked into the back, removed her smock and informed me that “someone else will be right with me” and that she had “just got off the clock”.

    Finally after a few more minutes of awkward waiting and throat clearing, another ‘pharmacist’ came to help me, yet she seemed completely unfamiliar with either of the medications I was prescribed; where they were located, what they did, etc.. I informed her that my insurance has only generic drug benefits and since neither of my prescriptions had generic equivalents I would like to get the cost up front. (Being the day before payday and returning from paying my GPs office visit fee had left me with approximately $100 until payday the next day, 9/6/06). She looked them both up on the computer and informed me that the Cipro was approx. $115- and the Tussionex would come out to approx. $75-. I informed her that I would only be able to fill one of my prescriptions, namely the one that I could afford and would provide me with the means for relief that evening and I would have to pick up the other prescription the next day when I got paid.

    Hearing me discuss this, the other pharmacist on duty, who would later only identify herself as “Akeen”, approached me and I explained what I had just told the previous woman. She took a moment to punch something into the computer before saying to me “I’m sorry, but unless you are planning on filling both of these today, I am going to refuse to fill this.” Feeling as sick and exhausted as I was, and now embarrassed, thinking I had done something wrong, I left empty-handed and called my GP for clarification.

    Upon hearing this, the Doctor was livid! He said, ‘There is a reason I wrote you two separate and wholly different prescriptions. If I had meant to require that both be filled at the same time, I would have indicated that. I gave you an injection of Cipro today, so you can not even start taking your oral Cipro for another 24 hours. She has no right to deny you your medication.”

    At that news I called the store and asked to speak to the manager. I was informed that there was no manager there, but directed to “Steven” (Stephen?) who identified himself as the acting manager. He was exceptionally receptive to my concerns and seemed as befuddled as both me and my doctor were as to why I was being denied my medication. He promised to look into it and asked to put me on hold. (Frankly, out of this entire ordeal, Steven was the most commendable of all, as he seemed genuinely interested in Customer Service.)

    After being on hold for approximately 5 minutes, I was transferred back to the pharmacy and back to Akeen. She explained that she was denying me my medication because that “that was just the way she practiced” and said that “Whenever I get a prescription for a pain killer and an antibiotic I make sure that they are both filled together”. Once again I restated the facts to her:

    – I had received intravenous antibiotics already that evening, so I could not start my antibiotic routine for another 24 hours anyway (which, coincidentally, is when I would have the funds available to pick up the balance of my medication)

    – The Tussionex was not being prescribed to me for its analgesic properties (as she had implied above), but for its anti-tussive properties. The point was to provide me with some relief from my symptoms so that I may be able to get the rest I need to fully recover.

    – The prescriptions were completely separate, on completely separate forms and nothing stating that they MUST or were even ADVISED to be filled together.

    I then asked, hypothetically, “Now if had walked into there and just handed you the one prescription form, would you have filled it then?” To which she replied “Without a question, however since I now know that you have an antibiotic prescription as well, I will refuse to fill it, because that’s just the way I practice.”

    Throughout our entire conversation, I was not treated with the respect that a human deserves, much less the compassion that I would hope a pharmacist would show to someone who is ill. My questions were never given a courteous, complete response and when pressed further I was continuously met with the reply “Well, that’s just the way I practice.” As if her Rite Aid pharmacy name tag somehow gives her more knowledge and authority than my General Practitioner, who has been practicing internal medicine for over 40 years.

    At one point I was even interrupted so that she could make a snarky comment about my economic status, stating “You know, there are other pharmacies. Perhaps you should put the time in to find one you can afford.” Excuse me? Is this the type of employee that you would like representing your organization? Insults and poor manners aside, her haughty, arrogant attitude and denial of patient care for no other reason than “That is just the way [she] practice[s]” opens your organization to TREMENDOUS liability.

    All in all, this incident has left me completely disgusted. From now on, I will do what I finally did last night and take my business to the CVS down the street where they hire pharmacists who don’t delude themselves into thinking they are doctors so that they can arbitrarily exert power over those who come to them for relief. I will encourage my friends, family and co-workers to do the same, as NO ONE deserves to be treated so disdainfully by someone they are turning to for help.”


Edit Your Comment

  1. homerjay says:

    When I started reading this, my initial reaction was “People have no idea how a pharmacy works and that a pharmacist DOES have the right to refuse to fill a script even though the Dr says its safe.”

    In this case, though, the pharmacist was just a bitch. ‘Thats the way I roll” is great if you’re tryin’ to pick up ‘da bitches in your Iroc Z, but what a STOOOOOPID response for a highly-paid pharmacist.

  2. raygun21 says:

    Section 733 of the California Business and Professions Code:

    (a)No licentiate shall obstruct a patient in obtaining a prescription drug or device that has been legally prescribed or
    ordered for that patient.

    this is downloadable in PDF format (http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/laws_regs/pharmacy_lawbook.htm)

  3. Chongo says:

    Well written Nick. All written complaints should go through you :)

  4. pdxguy says:

    Might not hurt to file a formal complaint with the state Board of Pharmacy.

  5. Doug says:

    I would have thought the mere mention of liability would have had things progress further for the writer. Then again, the company got what they likely wanted anyway, for the person to just let it eventually “go.”

  6. Solo says:

    Does anyone think pharmacist add any value to the process of getting prescription?

    I know, there’s a whole theory behind the justification, but still, for most people, most of Rx are just off the shelf pills: count them and put a label on the box.

    There would be just as much value from a vending machine.

    Pharmacist refuses to fill prescription? Not a problem, find another one. Everyone has a pharmacy, not only the cvs-riteaid-wallgreens, but all major grocery stores too. And that’s without counting the mom and pop stores all over the place.

    And for pharmacy, pharmacist and pill sellers, it’s nothing about people’s health, it’s all about business and bottom line anyway. Moody pharmacists = bad rep for the business.

  7. juri squared says:

    Solo: I half agree and half disagree with you. I’m not sure what all goes into being a pharmacist, but I think there’s more to it than just putting pills in bottles.

    One good reason to talk to the pharmacist is because generally they can see what you’re taking even when it’s from different doctors. My pharmacist once pointed out a possible drug conflict (two meds with the same active ingredient) that could have been harmful.

    That being said, that’s a perfect world scenario. Obviously, it’s not what happened in the submitter’s case. I have also had more bad experiences with the pharmacists at my local Walgreens than good ones – mostly because I end up with the pharmacist with zero customer service skills.

    The submitter is lucky to have the choice of switching pharmacies after being treated so poorly (especially the bit about him supposedly being too poor to deserve proper care). I just might do the same and go down the street to CVS.

  8. Plasmafire says:

    I still find it funny that my evil little sister is studying to become a pharmacist.

  9. HawkWolf says:

    my mom is a retail pharmacist, and she has basically told me enough stories that I will never, ever, ever be one. When the customers get bad, they get *bad*, and they often threaten to report you to corporate. Often, the most reports are because of insurance rejections, which the pharmacist has no control over. Anyway.

    However, I think the only medications she’s failed to fill were addictive painkillers, and it was when the person used up all their refills in a month and suddenly produced a script from a different doctor than the last four different ones within 30 days, etc. Basically, people who were trying to get pills because they were addicted. Even then, I think she had to call their doctor and see what was up. Maybe even that’s ethically wrong.

    So, tussionex is hydrocodone, which is an addictive painkiller. Perhaps this pharmacist thought that by saying, ‘give me the cheaper one’, he was saying, ‘I don’t want the real drugs, I just want the painkiller’. In that case, it’s remotely conceivable that he was perhaps getting antibiotics just so he can get his fix. That still doesn’t justify this.

    One thing the pharmacist should have done was, if it was still within the doctor’s business hours… she should have called him to verify.

  10. nikoniko says:

    You should definitely contact your Board of Pharmacy about this, and I can assure you they take breech of law and ethics very seriously. You should also consider getting in touch with a lawyer and the local media. Contacting the Consumerist was great, of course, but if you don’t at least let the Board of Pharmacy know what’s going on at this store, nothing will ever be done to fix it. I can assure you that Rite-Aid will not reprimand the pharmacist on their own, due to fear she might leave to work elsewhere. With a nationwide shortage of pharmacists, no drug store can afford to lose any of the ones they have.

    I used to work for CVS, which spends millions of dollars each year to settle claims regarding pharmacy malpractice. I have no doubt that Rite-Aid does the same. Even worse than that abuses happen is that there’s little accountability and consequence for the corporations involved. The companies will quickly pay a tidy sum in order to shut people up, as the consequences of widespread attention to such matters could be much more costly and inconvenient.

    The victims of pharmaceutical malpractice may receive financial remedy, but the pharmacy board is seldom contacted or the media brought in to spotlight what’s happening. Contacting Consumerist was a great step, but I really hope you’ll go farther with this.

    Taking your business to another pharmacy does help you, but unfortunately does little for the many thousands of other people that will continue to suffer from horrible pharmacists such as yours. In order to keep such stories out of the media, nearly all legal settlements impose restrictions on the claimant against publicizing what happened. It’s the precious few people who won’t give up or accept being silenced who have the power to change the system for the better. Unfortunately, the companies themselves will never make necessary changes unless they’re forced to.

  11. rdm says:

    I guess there’s bad service everywhere – now that I live in Dallas (moved from Detroit) and all there are are CVS and Walgreen’s I am longing for a Rite Aid :). CVS down here is a nightmare.

  12. Forgive my heresy but I have never understood why we need pharmacists in the first place. In my experience they’re simply overpaid, and sometimes overeducated, clerks. Sure the things they’re dispensing could be potentially dangerous but then so are guns, explosives, even bathroom cleansers. To my mind there is no reason the medical professionals in the hospital or doctor’s office could not dispense the medications perscribed.

    I’m so tired of hearing about Joe Pharmacist not giving someone birth control because he has a “moral objection”. Well buddy it’s your goddamn job to give people pills. If you have a moral objection to doing your damn job, go find another. Amish people don’t work at the power plant and vegans don’t work in meat packing facilities.

    As far as I’m concerned your primary job skills in being a pharmacist is the ability to read, count, reach high shelves, and follow directions. Pharmacists need to stop pretending they’re doctors.

  13. Jeff says:

    Is it just me, or could this whole situation have been avoided had you used a credit card? That’s one of the great uses of credit cards — filling the gap between when you don’t have money, and when you do.

    Anyway, nonetheless, we all know that Rite Aid is a company run by morons. The fact that every Rite Aid look like it just finished an impromptu game of “Supermarket Sweep” seems to be one of the more minor problems from which Rite Aid suffers. Given the choice between Rite Aid, Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens, or any other pharmacy, I’m not sure why anyone would choose Rite Aid.

  14. bones says:

    Ah, before we condemn the pharmacist let’s look at a couple of things. I have seen patients obtain narcotics from multiple providers and “fail” to mention that to all the doctors involved. You’d like to think that’s rare but it’s not. I see it in 5 out of 25 patients a day and 10 of 20 phone calls per day for “cough suppressent”, “backache medicine”, “refills”, or “something to tide me over until I can get in to see you”. The pharmacist may have looked in the computer and seen this patient has gotten narcotics from multiple doctors recently, may be taking the same narcotic in Tussionex for pain control and doesn’t need to add Tussionex, may have a habit of getting Tussionex chronically and “too soon” to be out of the last prescription. Again, despite protestations of “innocense”, I have seen this thousands of times. All of these actions are felonies, but it doesn’t stop them. So before we condemn the pharmacist, let’s let the thing play out.

  15. rgriisser says:

    Only one problem with the letter that I see, once you mentioned liability the corporate drones roll their eyes up into their heads and forward the letter to the legal department. After that, the only person that will talk to you is a lawyer.

  16. “Forgive my heresy but I have never understood why we need pharmacists in the first place. In my experience they’re simply overpaid, and sometimes overeducated, clerks.”

    Because they used to actually compound the medicines. Most medium-sized-or-larger cities today still have a compounding pharmacy where you can go and get your medicines directly compounded from scratch. People with allergies may need to do this, or with difficulty taking a medicine in a particular format, or who need a non-standard dose. Most compounding pharmacies also flavor things for children, or can put antibiotics in lollipops, or whatever. We visit my compounding pharmacy to get drugs for my cat — seriously! They do the veterinary as well as the people compounding, and one of my cats periodically requires a non-standard drug treatment we have to have compounded.

    (Most hospitals also have compounding pharmacists in the hospital, since hospitals obviously deal with a far wide range of medicines and dosages than a retail pharmacy.)

    That said, the majority of medicines dispensed at retail pharmacies today are dispensed in premeasured dosages directly from the manufacturer, sometimes in pre-sealed packages (like birth control) where the pharmacy doesn’t even count out pills. Some states have been experimenting with vending-machine-type dispensers for common drugs. There’s no major reason why a grocery-store pharmacy couldn’t have pharmacy techs dispense 95% of medications — except for a) state law that’s somewhat antiquated and from the era of compounding and b) liability for drug interactions. Newer computer systems could theoretically alleviate some of the liability issues, but it would definitely be putting the onus on the consumer (more than it already is, with impersonal pharmacies) to make sure the computer KNOWS all of their drugs and can search for interactions.

    However, having pharmacy techs dispense medications at most retail pharmacies would mean that when you’re in that 5% of medications that really do require pharmacist attention, you’d have to either wait (one pharmacist might serve six stores in rotation), go to a different pharmacy with a pharmacist on staff (which people already do to go to 24-hour pharmacies), or go to a compounding pharmacy. Would people be willing to make that trade-off? And it might be easy for me in an urban area of 300,000, but what if you lived in a small town with just a grocery-store pharmacy?

    (I don’t have good answers — I just think they’re interesting questions!)

  17. ohnothimagain says:

    It appears the only special skill a pharmacist needs is the ability to sniff out “patients” who are illegally seeking pain relievers. Pharmacists are indeed heroes who man the front lines of the war against drugs. They fight the fight every day, poorly armed and unappreciated. Grateful for your freedom from addiction to pain killers? Be sure to thank a pharmacist.

  18. tz says:

    There is one point that doesn’t apply here where I’m not sure when two perscriptions matter – the doctor above was diligent in writing one Rx for two things that need to be taken together, but some may not be. If two drugs have some synergistic effect that requires they be taken together (and Pharmacists are supposed to know this, otherwise they could be replaced with minimum wage clerks who could simply read), and a patient demands only one be filled – even in CA? – is it ethical to do so? And won’t the pharmacist be sued for doing something he knows would be dangerous?

    The pharmacists at the above store were jerks (didn’t they used to have “soda jerks”?) – they should have confirmed with the doctor if there were any questions – I assume they have telephones?

    But before we demand and pass laws that Pharmacists just be warehouse pickers, ought we not ask what value they add with their education and certification and whether or not the law is negating it? It sounds like it is that way in CA.

  19. loreshdw says:

    I want to put in another plug for CVS – they fill birth control without hassle. In Illinois, pharmacists at Osco were refusing ALL BIRTH CONTROL PILLS, not just “morning after”. They will never have my business again. The CVS locations near me are clean, quick (most of the time) and carry every odd/rare meds my husband or myself have filled. In the past I’ve gotten nasty looks at Cub foods for cough medicine, Osco for BC, and Walgreens for daring to ask about sterile water. Did you know it is prescription only? The pharmacist grilled me as if I was performing illegal procedures, my grandmother’s doctor told me I could get it at any pharmacy to wash her wound. I blame him for being an idiot and not giving a scrip for it, or at least being aware you need a scrip for it.

  20. bones says:

    The fact the doctor wrote “two seperate prescriptions” is inconsequential. Prescribing law states controlled medications need to be written seperately. And again, MANY patients come in and fill only the narcs and never get the other meds…MANY, MANY, MANY…

  21. Triteon says:

    Last January I was prescribed an antibiotic that was in the penicillin family of drugs; I am quite seriously allergic to penicillin. My pharmacist informed me that my prescription may be dangerous and called my doctor to verify he was giving me the right drug. He was (as recent trials had shown little to no reaction or side-effects for those allergic to penicillin), and both the doctor and I were grateful the pharmacist double-checked.
    When it comes to my health and the health of those close to me I prefer to have true professionals in charge, rather than semi-pros.

  22. Dr Scott says:

    Let the doctor know exactly what happened too. I don’t want to bash all Rite-Aids, but in my town I find ours to be a pain in the butt to deal with also. I’m also a pediatrician, so I try to steer my patients to other pharmacies if they don’t have a preference. It hasn’t improved our Rite-Aid’s service yet, but I feel better that I’m not giving them any extra business. Of course, it also means less hassle for me, since I don’t have to deal with as many complaints from patients about unfilled prescriptions, or asinine questions from so-called pharmacists.

  23. formergr says:

    I think it’s hard to say “Rite-Aid is better than CVS” wholesale. It just depends on the location and the particular branch in my experience. Here in Chicago, I go to Walgreens, because they are all over and because I like their website that allows you to do online prescription management. It’s especially helpful at tax time when the site lets you print out a one-year history of your prescription activity complete with prices paid.

    Also, with all the stories listed above (not the original letter writer though), are people being careful to differentiate between the pharmacist, and the pharm tech? At least here in the city, the pharm tech is usually the sullen person who you interact with when dropping off or picking up a prescription. The pharmacist is who they will call over if you have a question on how to take the meds, etc.

    And that’s where they add value beyond a clerk– a good pharmacist will be able to suggest tips to avoid side effects like nausea, etc., and answer those questions that tend to only occur to you after you’ve walked out of the doctor’s office with scrip in hand.

  24. mechanismatic says:

    The amount of people who abuse the system is irrelevant. It’s better that a hundred painkiller addicts get their fix than a single deserving patient is denied. Having to go to a different pharmacy is an unnecessary burden on the customer, especially if there’s no good reason for the Pharmacist to deny the scrip. What if the customer lived in a small town with only one pharmacy and the nearest town was several miles away? How far is too far for a customer to have to go to get a scrip filled? If the Pharmacist suspected the customer was a painkiller addict, they should outright deny the scrip and say so. If they have no actual evidence to suggest that the person is an addict, they should shut up and fill the scrip. This isn’t someone missing a newspaper or getting overcharged for a box of cereal. Medicine is important and the consequences of denying doctor-prescribed medicine should be taken seriously. They certainly shouldn’t be flippantly excused with a “that’s just how I do things” kind of answer.

  25. MeOhMy says:

    The problem with the “addictive painkiller” defense is that if you as a pharmacist had concerns about fulfilling the prescription for this reason, you would say that instead of the dismissive, ambiguous, and “more highly educated” equivalent of “That’s how I roll.”

  26. TinaT says:

    If I’m a pharmacist, and I see someone come in with a lung infection who’s coughing throughout the conversation, I would not find it hard to believe that they wanted cough syrup in order to treat their cough.

  27. agent says:

    Pharmacists serve a number of purposes and are definitely more than “clerks.” They let you know if your drugs interact with each other (like when your antibiotics lower the efficacy of your birth control pills), when your doctor has screwed up with a medication dosage (or prescibed something you’re allergic to, like someone else mentioned), and (ideally) answer any questions you forgot to ask your doctor. When it comes to something as potentially dangerous as medication, it comforts me to have a professional looking over what my doctor has done because, as we all know, doctors are not infallible. My dad and grandfather were pharmacists, and it’s an incredibly difficult and stressful job.

    But still, there’s no reason to refuse to fill a prescription for ambiguous reasons.

  28. bones says:

    Mechanismatic above is wrong. First you don’t call people addicts unless you have proof of wrongdoing BUT you don’t hand out narcotics if you even suspect something is wrong. Your “shut up and fill the scrip(t)” comment is also wrong. The Pharmacist is a licensed professional. They often catch duplicate scripts, dangerous interactions between drugs from different doctors filled at different pharmacies, incorrect or ambigious dosages, allergies the patient forgot to tell the doctor about. They are not pharmacy techs or “pill” pullers. They can refuse to fill a prescription because they object to it for a variety of reasons – they feel it is unsafe for the patient, they suspect abuse, they object ethically – just like your doctor. That’s the law across the country. Patients often believe they know more than both the doc and the pharmacist, that doesn’t mean they do. Destress, here’s an example of how “customers” treat pharmacists and then insist they were absolutely civil and the pharmacist was mean and rude, by the way it’s funny too (sorry about the copy/paste).

  29. bones says:

    Mechanistic said : ” Medicine is important and the consequences of denying doctor-prescribed medicine should be taken seriously.”

    Come on it’s narcotic cough suppresant not cancer chemotherapy, who are you kidding. The antibiotic was the important med. I’ve NEVER seen ANYONE die from lack of cough suppresant but I HAVE seen people die from buying narcotics instead of their antibiotics. Oh, and by-the-way your flippant attitude that, ” It’s better that a hundred painkiller addicts get their fix than a single deserving patient is denied.” is stupid and misguided – when your 12 year old dies from narcotics bought in school from a doctor and pharmacy shopping “customer” who pushes those drugs on the kids in the neighborhood. Yeah, I’ve seen that too, you don’t think they use the 10 different prescriptions for Lortab, ritalin, Tussionex, Vicodin, Concerta, Adderall, etc. themselves – they sell them to your kids to make money. So no I don’t think 100 addicts get their “fix” so you aren’t “inconvienenced”.

  30. jitrobug says:

    according to wikipedia, cipro is available as a generic.

  31. bones says:

    Cipro for 10 days is @ $81 and Tussionex for 10 days @ $60, makes you think why not get the antibiotic, or call the doc and tell him you need a cheaper antibiotic? Interesting would spend a lot on the narcotic instead.

  32. formergr says:

    bones said, “They can refuse to fill a prescription because they object to it for a variety of reasons – they feel it is unsafe for the patient, they suspect abuse, they object ethically – just like your doctor. That’s the law across the country. “

    Er, no actually, it’s in act *not* the law across the country. Illinois and California both have laws (the California one goes into effect Jan ’07) that forbid a pharmacist to refuse filling a prescription based on ethical reasons. The most common case of this is usually birth control pill, whether in the contraceptive form or the morning after pill.

  33. bones says:

    Generic Cipro for 10 days @$80, Tussionex for 10 days @$60. But you choose to buy the Tussionex because you don’t have the money for the antibiotics? How about calling your doc and telling him upfront you need a cheaper antibiotic, there are plenty of cheaper or generic antibiotics that can be used instead. Unless you wanted the narc all the time.

  34. bones says:

    formerger, so 2 of 50 states have a law, and both those states recently passed those laws and they have yet to be challanged in court, where an excellant possibility exists they will be found unconstitutional. Like I said pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions for ethical reasons across the US. Generally in the US you can’t force a person to violate their religious tenants because the “state” said they will. You also don’t want to go down that bad road, when the state starts telling you what you “must” do regardless of your religious beliefs, consequently, you have to go to court to give blood, medications, surgery to every minor child of every Jehovah’s Weitness/Christian scientist – there is no blanket LAW that says if the kid will die the doctor can go ahead and treat regardless of the parent’s religion. Now I have no problem with EC that caused the CA law, but forcing people of good faith to violate their religious/ethical principles is not the answer, there are other options.

  35. mechanismatic says:


    My point about the suspicion of wrong-doing is that you should say that you suspect wrong-doing and cite that as your reason for denying the scrip, instead of just flippantly saying that that’s how you work. It’s deceptive and dishonest otherwise. The pharmacist in this case didn’t catch a duplicate medication, didn’t say they felt it was unsafe for the customer, didn’t say anything much beyond the fact that they insisted on filling both or not at all. Hence, the pharmacist in this situation was not exercising some protective judgment for the customer. If the pharmacist had the balls to just say that they suspected painkiller addiction, it would have all been cleared up. Yes, a lot of pharmacists can do right by their customers by catching problems, but if you can’t say what the problem is, then you’re just being a jerk. The pharmacist should support their reasoning, if they actually have one.

    The comment about medicine was about all medicine, not this specific issue. When pharmacists deny the morning after pill, is that then a time in which you’d support the pharmacist to shut up and provide the medicine? What if the pharmacist has less information than the doctor (which is entirely likely)? Does questioning the scrip then help the customer? Being sick is bad enough. Getting crap from a pharmacist just to get something that may or may not make you better (or just cover up symptoms) doesn’t need to make the experience worse.

    The responsibility of 12 year olds overdosing in your scenario would not lie with the pharmacist who filled the scrip but with the customer who sold it. Or should the car dealership be held liable for selling a car to a person who commits a hit and run? If the pharmacist has no knowledge or suspicion of wrong-doing (and this pharmacist never hinted, much less stated, that they suspected painkiller addiction much less drug-dealing intentions), then they couldn’t be held liable for such. All the drug education programs and controlling of substances can’t keep kids from obtaining and overdosing on drugs. It’s the intelligence of the kids that makes the difference in that situation.

  36. capturedshadow says:

    EC Drop out said “Forgive my heresy but I have never understood why we need pharmacists in the first place. In my experience they’re simply overpaid, and sometimes overeducated, clerks.”

    Pharmacists are there to limit the power of Doctors. If doctors prescribe the drugs, then sells you the drugs, there is big temptation for them to sell you stuff that you don’t need. By going through a pharmacist you can be sure that the doctor is not profiting directly from what he or she prescribes. (Although they could still own stock in CVS) The pharmacists are not much of a check on the power of the doctor, but can at least clue you in when the doctor is prescribing something outside the norm.

  37. htrout13 says:

    1. Pharmacists are doctors. They go to school just like your general practitioner, they intern, just like a medical doctor, and need to know more about the drugs they are dispensing than the doctors who write the scripts.

    2. The Pharmacist must check EVERY script that goes through the pharmacy before it reaches the consumer. It doesn’t matter if a tech fills the script (types it up and counts it), the script cannot leave until the Pharmacist approves it and makes sure that there aren’t interactions or errors.

    3. The retail pharmacist has the added burden of making sure that patients who do not have insurance are not overdosing or mixing drugs that could be lethal. The reason given by the pharmacist in this scenario should have explained her position better, but it could be that she saw something in the patient profile that concerned her.

    4. The pharmacist has a license with both their state and the DEA. If they dispense medication that could cause harm, they can be accused of negligence. Most regular patients have a profile, and if they have a condition that requires a large number of controlled substances dispensed there is a note there explaining that. If there is not a note, the pharmacist does have the right to refuse to fill a questionable script (due to abuse of narcotics). If they fill a questionable a script they can lose their license and their job. This is not done based on the pharmacists ethics but on legal grounds.

    I ask you to do some more research before you call the pharmacist an overpaid cashier and realize that the schooling that goes into this profession puts them at the same level as your General Practitioner.

    That being said – the pharmacist in this scenario should not have answered the way she did – and the reasoning was not legitimate… A good pharmacist will always call the doctor to ensure that the doctor a) actually prescribed the drugs, and b) that the dr is aware of the possible interactions.

    (no, I’m not a pharmacist, but I teach the people that help them out!)

  38. SexCpotatoes says:

    There are plenty of doctors that get kickbacks from prescribing certain new, expensive drugs, when generics or cheaper versions would work just as well. Where are the laws limiting this fucking outright bribery?!?

  39. Cipro for 10 days is @ $81 and Tussionex for 10 days @ $60,…makes you think why not get the antibiotic

    No it doesn’t. Nick had already gotten his dose of the antibiotic. Why would he spend money on the medication he doesn’t need yet if he can only buy one?

    How about calling your doc and telling him upfront you need a cheaper antibiotic, there are plenty of cheaper or generic antibiotics that can be used instead.

    Because he didn’t need them cheaper, he just needed to buy them separately.

    Unless you wanted the narc all the time.

    Of course he wanted the narc, he was coughing up blood! Why would he take the perscription from his doctor if he didn’t want it? Not everyone who goes into a pharmacy with a perscription for a painkiller is an addict and there’s no reason to insinuate that Nick is.

  40. bones says:

    And this is why there are doctors and pharmacists. Every protest that the
    pharmacist was wrong can be explained from the facts presented in the letter. If you were a cop and saw guys dressed in black hanging out behind a warehouse at night in the dark hiding, you wouls suspect a robbery. If you didn’t you’d be stupid. This action of filling the narc and leaving the antibiotic ( or other med) happens thousands upon thousands of times a day to doctors and pharmacists and is most often associated with narcotic abuse. There is ALWAYS a good story to explain why the customer needs the narcotic and not the other med and in the vast majority of cases it’s a lie. AND the antibiotic is the important med here, not the cough suppresant. And the doc WOULD/COULD have changed the meds to equally effective, cheaper drugs that would have worked just as well and allowed the patient to afford both.

  41. mechanismatic says:

    So you’ve done a study on this, Bones? Or you’re a pharmacist and you’ve experienced this majority of the time that people are getting painkillers because they’re addicts? Where’s your evidence to support these claims? If you were a cop and saw guys dressed in black hanging out behind a warehouse at night in the dark hiding, you’d get in trouble if you automatically concluded robbery without investigating and just arrested them for robbery, even if you had no actual evidence. The pharmacist didn’t say they suspected addiction or dealing. A cop has to tell you why you’re being arrested. If neither has evidence to support their conclusions, then they shouldn’t follow through on their medication denial/arrest.

  42. bones says:

    Exactly mechanistic,if you were a you’d stop the car, ask the guys for IDs, ask them why they are hanging out in a dark alley, and probably make them MOVE ALONG even if they were innocent. You would not call them crooks and start arresting them, just like a pharmacist wouldn’t call a customer an addict and tell the customer he suspected he was a marcotic addict based on a reasonable suspicion and just like the cop you would not aid in a suspicious situation. I’m glad you agree with me. And, yes, I am in a position where I see thousands of these exact situations every year, and I’m not the only one. Each state has hundreds of investigators that do nothing but investigate and prosecute cases JUST LIKE THIS ONE.

  43. AND the antibiotic is the important med here, not the cough suppresant.

    He probably thought not coughing up blood was pretty important. Should he have overdosed on the antibiotic just to make the pharmacist happy?

    And the doc WOULD/COULD have changed the meds to equally effective, cheaper drugs that would have worked just as well and allowed the patient to afford both.

    And the pharmacist could have just let him buy them separately, just like the one at the CVS did, which allowed him to afford both.

    …based on a reasonable suspicion…

    That’s the crux of it, isn’t it? I don’t think someone being unable to afford almost $200 worth of medication makes them suspicious. Neither does buying one medication first and buying the rest the next day or pay day.

  44. bones says:

    Rectilinear that’s why there are doctors and pharmacists that know better than you. Your “picking” apart my text doesn’t make your point. Coughing up blood is a symptom but doesn’t endanger this guys life, covering up coughing up blood with a narcotic does though. The “blood” is a product of the infection eating into the lung walls and letting the blood collect in the lung and fill the airsacs can make breathing (under water essentially)much harder. Again selling the narcotic to make a buck at CVS isn’t what’s in the patient’s or society’s best interest here, doing what’s right for the patient and protecting the rest of society is what’s important here. And the antibiotic is what’s important here not the cough suppresant. Hell, there’s a guy on the corner that will sell this customer Lortab does that make it right? And your supposition that buying the narcotic and leaving behind the antibiotic is not suspicious is your uneducated guess about a profession you know nothing about, so consequently it’s worthless.

    Again, that’s why there are doctors and pharacists and you aren’t one of them.

  45. bones says:

    Did you even notice that in the “customer’s own e-mail” he states the pharmacist checked the computer and then came back and said she would not fill the narcotic? What do you think she was doing at the computer? She was checking to see if the “customer” had filled other narcotics recently, from whom, from which stores/pharmacies in the state/geographic area, and how often. THEN she came back and wouldn’t fill the narcotic, gett the picture? Most likely, she saw multiple narcotics filled by this “customer” from multiple doctors, and saw that he should still have narcotics to use unless he took them at greater than the prescribed interval. Get it?

  46. pronell says:

    Right, Bones. This enraged customer is obviously a drug addict, seeking revenge against the last bastion of defense in a civilized society, the twits who stand between you and your prescribed medication.
    It’s the pharmacist’s job to fill the legal prescription. And apparently it’s your job to magically stand behind this pharmacist’s shoulder in the past and TELL US WHAT SHE SAW ON HER SCREEN. Because that’s the only logical response.. that the person complaining is a criminal, and she’s a force for good in society… who refuses to give her name, lest her secret identity be revealed to the forces of evil.

  47. bones says:

    No pronell, what I’m saying is there are reasons for not filling prescriptions. None of us were there, but the above posts degraded pharmacists as idiot pill pullers who have no right to not fill a “legal” prescription, and that isn’t true. Do you know that’s not what happened? I am simply describing a situation that fits the facts where the prescription would be legitimately denied, and since none of us have the full facts I think this one goes to investigation by Rite-Aid.

  48. bones says:

    And pronell I take it your a licensed pharmacist after completeing pharmacy school and fill prescriptions for a living SO YOU KNOW HOW AND WHY PHARMACISTS make the decisions they make BECAUSE OF YOUR LONG EXPERIENCE WITH PATIENT CARE RIGHT? Everyone can type in caps pronell.

  49. bones says:

    And pronell why don’t you be a real amn and tell your pharmacist, the next time you’re in CVS getting your narcs, that you called your pharmacist a twit who has no right to make any decisions about your meds so long as you have a “legal” precription. Be a man, then let the “twit” fix your meds for you.

  50. autumm says:

    I’m so glad that I saw this. RiteAid pharmacy gave me the wrong RX for 5 months. I had a new precription and the doctor gave me 6 refills for an acid reducer Protonix. Each time I took it to RiteAid they gave me the same pill a litle white one round. It wasn’t until the last refill I notice the pill was yellow and shaped different. I called Rite Aid for I thought they had been giving me a generic and charging me for the brand. Well, I was informed by RiteAid that Protonix did not come in a generic form. They had no idea what they had been giving me for 5 months, and of course I had taken all of the medicine. Someone made a horrible mistake somewhere and they covered their butts. I reported them to the state, but nothing was done. I’m sure that I wasn’t the only person that got the wrong medication from that batch. My bottle actually said “Prontonix” but what was in it was not. Rite Aid pharmasist are a HAZARD. Thank God I’m still alive.

  51. hotfriend says:

    Nick doesn’t sound as though he did anything wrong. And he hardly looks like someone who is wasting away from years of drug addiction.

    Rite Aid told me that they don’t carry Concerta. I asked if they could order it. I was told that the company they order from does not carry it. My guess-the hassles from the FDA and DEA just make it not worth the effort.

    But there is no excuse a customer to be spoken to as if he’s a criminal and all of you are assuming facts not in evidence. NONE of you are doctors and a pharmacist is NOT a doctor. The law says that a pharmacist must fill a legitimate prescription. And I know for a fact that doctors do not care to be second-guessed by clerks with two years of college pharmacy training.

    We’re still hearing these canards about “shopping customers” selling drugs to kids. I’ve known a few shopping customers and they invariably want the drugs for themselves. Kids are more likely to buy illicit drugs that are smuggled into the country, not “diverted” from the legitimate drug supply.

    I’ve met many a smart-nosed pharmacist in my time and I happen to be a very polite person. Treating citizens like drug addicts when they present prescriptions has been going on for years. The problem is worse than ever.

    The FDA has had it in for stimulants since it required a doctor’s prescription for amphetamines in 1959. In 1962 and the early ’70s, it intensified the crackdown.

    The result? So-called “bathtub speed” became big in Haight-Asbury in 1967-1968. At that time, addicts injected it. The subsequent police crackdown on these addicts and their suppliers had some effect on curtailing the problem. But what really made speed unpopular was that users learned for themselves how truly deleterious it really is.

    Then, in 1968, for the first time in our history, a relatively obscure drug called cocaine stepped in to fill the gap.

    The problem is not “little kids getting sold drugs in schoolyards.” That’s a virtual myth, a bogeyman that anti-drug crusaders trot out and neurotic parents embrace. It’s the FDA’s and DEA’s unrelenting efforts to stop virtually all prescriptions of pharmaceutically pure and prescribed stimulants–which do not have the toxicity of “crank” and rarely result in a “paranoid psychosis.”

    But drug Prohibition can ALWAYS be counted on to make drug abuse more harmful, more reactive, and harder to deal with in any sane, rational way.

    Couple that with the black-or-white, it’s either right-or-wrong ignorance of the public toward drugs and you have our ongoing, never-ending quest to stop people from getting their highs chemically, rather than through the Protestant Work Ethic.

    It’s not about whether a guy who’s on Codeine & Tylenol gets a prescription from his doctor. A pharmacist is NOT a doctor. It’s said that 100,000 people are killed every year by being given the wrong medication.

    A great many of these mistakes are attributed to pharmacists, not doctors. From what I’m reading here, pharmacists hold themselves in a higher regard than is commensurate with their educational achievements or clinical training.

    Putting all that aside, I have a legitimate prescription for Concerta. Rite Aid does NOT carry it. Eckerd didn’t have it in stock and-well, with the Christmas/New Year’s holiday approaching/wouldn’t have it soon.

    What’s going on? The FDA and DEA are coming down on pharmacies who fill these prescriptions, thinking that a prescription for a stimulant or painkiller must have an illicit intent behind it. Pharmacies are just deciding that it’s not worth the hassle. An increasing number of adults are being treated for ADD-1.5 million at last count, according to the NYT. Do you think the FDA and DEA are going to sit still for that?

    And do you truly believe that if the dispensing of legitimate prescriptions were outlawed forever, the drug problem would just go away? Or would it just go underground, as it always has, resulting in chemically impure, adulterated concoctions that will cause a far greater number of drug casualties. THAT is the true historical scenario of every drug the government has targeted for regulation and elimination-not little kiddies being hooked by junkies.

    A) The government targets a drug and its “abusers.”
    B) Government cracksdowns
    C) An illicit market arises to fill the demand
    D) If the drug was a pharmaceutical (e.g., amphetamines) a more toxic alternative will be mass produced
    E) The cost in human lives, misery, and wasted tax dollars will be far worse than before the crackdown
    F) The “problem” is no more chance of being eradicated than any other drug the government decided to protect us from, going all the way back to the beginning of U.S. drug prohibition in 1914 .

  52. Raylaj says:

    I just want a to find a way to Complain about the Service I recieved at the Rite Aid in Chester, PA.

    This is a Community of Disabled people that live right in Back of the RITE AIDE.

    I’ve BEEn Here 2 and a half years never have I been treated the Way I was tonight.

    I am brain damaged, My words don’t come out so smooth but I never have been rude.
    I always say Excuse me to the Cashier and I say I’ll wait till your done as not to Rush them at their work.

    I merely was trying to explain myself clear, because the Cashier had the wrong item in her hand and I got treated like a Child, She asked me if i was trying to get Smart. I couldn’t find the right words. I told Her NO.

    THen I said Who is You Manager, I never got treated like that, She said She was on the phone with her.

    IF it is the Both of them..That is not right. I’m not trying to be in a Street Gang, I just trying to Shop.

    I used to work Retail, Cashier Customer Service. I was an Assistant Manager At GNC before My Brain Disorder. I know the Right way to treat Someone.