First they came for the mentally ill addicts, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a mentally ill addict.

Then they came for the empathetic prescribers, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a empathetic prescriber.

Then they came for the Pharmacists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Pharmacist.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me

FIRST COAST (Jacksonville, FL area ) investigative reporter looking for pts getting Rxs denied

Have you recently been denied having your prescription pain medication filled at a First Coast pharmacy? What was the reason you were given? If you would be willing to share your story on-camera please email me at

Pharmacist claims in a False Claims Act whistleblower complaint .. Walgreens defrauded Uncle Sam and California


SACRAMENTO (CN) – Walgreens defrauded Uncle Sam and California by submitting claims for prescriptions not covered by Medicare or MediCal, Pharmacist claims in a False Claims Act whistleblower complaint.
     Glenn Dabek, who worked for Walgreen from 2008-2013, claims he saw pharmacists at more than 12 Sacramento-area pharmacies override Medicare and MediCal payment rejections and fill prescriptions for customers, then use a generic code to justify the Medicare override.
     He claims Walgreens falsely represented the prescriptions were covered by Medicare or MediCal in order to “get false or fraudulent claims paid by the U.S. government.”
     Dabek sued Walgreen in Federal Court on Nov. 19, 2013 on behalf of California. The case was unsealed Thursday.
     Walgreens settled a similar lawsuit for $7.9 million in 2012, after two pharmacists sued it on behalf of the government. Walgreen did not admit wrongdoing or liability in that case. It was accused of luring Medicare and Medicaid patients with gift cards and causing the federal and state governments to pay false claims .
     Walgreens received another blow in December when U.S. Court Judge Anthony Ishii ruled Walgreens owed a full jury award of $1.15 million in punitive damages to a former employee who was fired after he complained about Medicare billing fraud .
     “The decision makers intentionally terminated Mitri because Mitri was complaining about billing fraud, utilized a false reason for the termination, relied on a dubious final warning, lied to Mitri that he was being investigated, and did not let Mitri defend himself in any way. Neither the termination nor the events leading up to and surrounding the termination were accidental,” Ishii wrote.
     Dabek seeks civil penalties and treble damages for False Claims Act violations.
     He is represented by Gregory Thyberg.

“There has been collateral damage and those are patients who have legitimate pain,”


Florida’s pill mill crackdown makes getting meds difficult for ‘legitimate pain’ patients

J. Roger Accardi faces a dilemma every time a chronic pain patient walks up to his counter to get a prescription filled.

The Orange City pharmacist has a limited supply of powerful pain medication to dispense and is under immense pressure from federal and state authorities to ensure those drugs don’t fall into the wrong hands.

Florida needed to do something about prescription painkiller abuse, but the crackdown on pill mills has produced unintended consequences, said Accardi, owner of Accardi Clinical Pharmacy.

“There has been collateral damage and those are patients who have legitimate pain,” he said. “In this climate, there are going to be patients who are going to be turned away. Some are going to be legitimate, and that is terribly unfortunate.”

The new challenges for pain patients come after federal and state officials acted to combat an epidemic of prescription drug abuse that claimed eight lives a day in Florida.

While their actions put a dent in overdose deaths, chronic pain patients, such as Palm Coast resident Charles Knighton, have been caught in the middle.

Since Florida implemented new regulations to stamp out abuse, pharmacists have refused to fill some of Knighton’s pain prescriptions. As a result, he says he can’t get all of the medication he needs to manage his pain.

“I’ve been made to feel like a drug addict — like I am on trial,” said Knighton, 54, who has a rare spinal condition called syringomyelia. “The war on drugs has become the war on the disabled.”

At Accardi’s practice, chronic pain patients must submit to a half hour interview and a criminal background check to verify they won’t abuse the drugs.

Only 1-in-10 is approved, Accardi said.

Dr. Kavita Sharma, a Florida Hospital DeLand pain medicine physician, says her patients with back, neck and cancer-related pain are sometimes forced to wait a week for their medication or are told by pharmacists that they will only fill a pain prescription if it is accompanied by other nonnarcotic prescriptions.

Her patients include professionals who need the medication to continue working, and seniors who use the drugs to stay mobile.

“They are trying to be functional, and if you take away the tools to stay functional, it can really impact them a lot,” Sharma said. “Their stress and depression rises when they lose their functional level.”


About five years ago, Florida earned the reputation as the pill mill capital of the United States. Unscrupulous pain management doctors set up storefront clinics and freely handed out pain pills with little to no medical justification.

These powerful drugs included oxycodone, hydrocodone, dilaudid and other narcotics effective at stopping pain but also highly addictive and prone to abuse.

Overdoses increased by 61 percent from 2003-2009, and, on average, eight Floridians died of an overdose every day. People flocked to the Sunshine State to buy the drugs.

In 2010, Florida was home to 98 of the top 100 oxycodone-dispensing doctors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lawmakers acted. They barred pain management clinics from dispensing pain pills from their offices. They implemented a prescription drug database that keeps records on how many pain prescriptions a patient has.

Law enforcement agencies raided crooked doctors’ offices that funneled pills to drug abusers. The authorities intended the highly publicized arrests to send a message to corrupt doctors and pharmacies that their actions would not be tolerated.

The crackdown helped to shutter pill mills, and oxycodone overdose deaths decreased by 52 percent in Florida from 2010-2012, according to the CDC.

Stopping pill abuse became a priority locally.

In one case, officers arrested Port Orange physician Dr. Ataur Rahman and accused him of trading pain pills for hundreds of thousands of dollars and sex with female patients.

Police estimated Rahman was taking in as much as $74,250 per week at the business, where he has been accused of prescribing pain medication to people without conducting exams.

He pleaded not guilty and is awaiting trial.


But these enforcement actions and new regulations also carried unintended consequences, said Michael A. Jackson, executive vice president and CEO of the Florida Pharmacy Association.

Pharmacies and physicians are sometimes scared to provide pain medication to people who legitimately need it, including terminally ill cancer patients, he said.

“You have a chilling effect where you have a physician who is becoming very wary of overprescribing and also you have pharmacists wary of overdispensing because they don’t want their licenses taken away from them,” he said. “We now have a situation where access is a problem. The pendulum has swung too far to the right. We have to find a way to bring the pendulum back to the middle.”

Also, the federal government recently reclassified the popular pain medication hydrocodone in October from Schedule III to Schedule II, making it more tightly controlled and harder for patients to fill, Sharma said.

With the crackdown also came hefty fines for some large pharmacies and distributors.

The Drug Enforcement Administration fined Walgreens $80 million in 2013 for not doing enough to stop painkillers from reaching the black market. It stopped two CVS stores in Sanford from dispensing the drugs. The drug wholesaler Cardinal Health temporarily lost its ability to distribute controlled substances from its Lakeland facility. The wholesaler settled claims for $34 million that it fulfilled suspicious orders of hydrocodone.

A report this month from the Government Accountability Office found the DEA ineffectively managed its quota system for the production of controlled substances, contributing to a shortage of pain medication.

Accardi said he is alloted a limited number of doses and must be selective in how they are dispensed.

The DEA disputed some of the report’s findings and says its actions are not causing a shortage of prescription pain medication.

“All we are asking is for the pharmacies to use their training, education and experience and look at the totality of circumstances to determine if the prescription is legitimate,” said Jeffrey Walsh, assistant special agent in charge of DEA’s Central Florida office in Orlando. “Nobody has been the subject of an enforcement action that hasn’t been a longterm, egregious and habitual offender.”

Even though it sets broad quotas for controlled substances, the distributor — not the DEA — decides how many doses are alloted to a particular pharmacy, Walsh said.

But Randy Margrave, a pharmacist at Holly Hill Pharmacy, says wholesalers are under pressure from the DEA to closely watch dispensing patterns and limit the number of doses provided to pharmacies.

One time his pharmacy was flagged by a wholesaler because it ordered more drugs in advance of a price increase, he said. Because of the limited supply, he’s not accepting any new chronic pain patients, despite the pharmacy getting 15 to 20 calls a day from people inquiring about the availability of painkillers.

“They’ve got the wholesalers shaking in their boots,” Margrave said.

Dr. Frank Farmer, an Ormond Beach physician, doesn’t think the state regulations implemented during his tenure as surgeon general from 2011 to 2012 are overly burdensome.

Pharmacists simply need to take a few moments to check the state database and ensure the prescription is legitimate, Farmer said.

“It broke the back of illegal prescription drug mills,” Farmer said of legislation passed during his tenure. “The number of deaths have gone down tremendously.”

State Attorney General Pam Bondi also defends the state regulations.

“The legislation we supported didn’t have any impact on any doctor writing a prescription or a pharmacist filling a prescription,” said Whitney Ray, a spokesman for the attorney general.

Federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle introduced legislation last month that would require that federal agencies collaborate to develop a strategy for ensuring patients have access to pain medication while at the same time policing the system for abuse.


In a video produced by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, an older gentleman with a gray goatee approaches a pharmacy counter seeking a refill for Valium.

The pharmacist notices he just received a refill last week, and that prescription was from a different physician.

The footage stops. “Could (he) be doctor shopping?” the video asks.

The clip informs pharmacists they are the last line of defense and play a critical role in ensuring “a prescription being filled has a legitimate medical purpose.”

Part of their job is to notice “red flags” that a prescription may be illegitimate. The Drug Enforcement Administration says pharmacies have a “corresponding responsibility” along with physicians to ensure prescriptions for controlled substances are legitimate.

Red flags include groups of people carrying prescriptions for the same drug, paying cash for controlled substances, a prescription from a prescriber in a distant location, prescriptions for the same drug from multiple doctors, nervousness or appearing intoxicated.

Holly Hill pharmacist Margrave said getting a small prescription of painkillers filled is typically not difficult, but chronic pain patients who require many doses can encounter hurdles, he said.

“We basically have to know the patient and know the physician,” Margrave said. “If we are not familiar with the patient, we are not going to fill it.”


Knighton says he had his prescriptions filled for two decades without a problem.

He was diagnosed with his condition in his 30s, underwent a series of painful operations and eventually had to quit his job as a software engineer. He recently moved to Palm Coast from North Carolina because the warmer weather helps with his pain.

He says the terrible pain — described in his medical records as feeling like “mice were crawling their way out from his muscles”— leaves him bedridden most of the day.

Knighton said he and his doctor have developed a mixture of pain medicines over the years that makes the constant pain manageable.

Pharmacists and society have an obligation to help people like him, Knighton said.

He likes to say he’d rather fight a grizzly bear with a pocketknife than endure his chronic pain without medication.

“Pain — you can’t escape it,” he said. “It makes your life misery.”

Illegal activities and the DEA and FBI agents in the same article ?

A DEA Agent Has Been Charged With Selling Secrets to Silk Road

A DEA agent and a Secret Service agent were charged with stealing bitcoin during the investigation.

Two federal agents have been charged with stealing bitcoin, among other illegal activities, during an investigation of the Internet’s infamous black market, Silk Road. DEA agent Carl Force and Secret Service agent Shaun Bridges, who both live in Maryland, were part of the Baltimore Silk Road Task Force and have been accused of wire fraud and money laundering. Force is also facing charges of theft of government property and conflict of interest as he may have sold information to Silk Road administrator Ross Ulbricht while working as an undercover agent.

Force was the one who  first set up communication with Ulbricht, known on Silk Road as Dread Pirate Roberts. Force also started stealing from the government and Silk Road users according to prosecutors. Ulbricht apparently paid $100,000 worth of bitcoin to Force in exchange for information about the investigation and Force offered to not tell the government information about Silk Road for $250,000 of bitcoin. Force was arrested on Friday to appear in court on Monday.

Bridges, who was one of the people in charge of the bitcoin seized from Silk Road during the investigation, allegedly took over $800,000 worth of the digital currency, putting it into the now defunct Mt. Gox exchange before wiring it to his personal accounts. Just two days after the last of the money came through, Bridges tried to get a $2.1 million seizure warrant for Mt. Gox’s accounts. He appeared in court in San Francisco on Monday.

The whole thing is so salacious it’s almost hard to believe it might have really happened, but the clues have been building for a while. Ulbricht repeatedly hinted that he had contacts in the DEA during his recent trial, and there were notes about it in his journals. Prosecutors had noticed discrepancies in the investigation of Silk Road that eventually led to the formal filing of charges. Now it remains to be seen how the two former federal agents will deal with the charges brought against them, and what sort of changes will be made in how the government handles bitcoin to prevent issues like this coming up again.


The Slow Death of Compassion: One Year Later

The Slow Death of Compassion: One Year Later

Another Excellent Video by Ken Mc Kim

Bigotry and Discrimination alive and well in Indiana ?

What the ‘religious freedom’ law really means for Indiana

What if a healthcare professional’s personal “moral compass” points to anyone taking a opiate is a “addict” and addiction is morally wrong – a sin – and cannot treat/provide services/products to a person.. under this law.. will it now be legal ?

INDIANAPOLIS — Will Indiana’s new religious freedom law really allow restaurants to deny service to customers who are gay?

Was the law necessary to protect pastors from being forced into performing same-sex weddings?

Will it provide a legal rationale for Christian bakeries to refuse to make a cake for a same-sex couple’s wedding?

The problem with these questions is that the answers depend on whom you ask — especially among those most emotionally invested, but even within the legal community. And, now, with Indiana Republican Gov. Mike Pence’s announcement Saturday that he will seek further legislation to “clarify” the act, it could become even more complicated.

The argument over what Pence has thus signed becomes not only intellectual, but visceral, vitriolic, ugly. Both sides dig in, because each thinks the other is flatly wrong — in their hearts, and on the facts. And the debate rages on, sometimes spiraling to a place so far away from the law itself.

Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, might actually do little as a law when it goes into effect July 1, legal experts say. It simply sets a standard by which cases involving religious objections will be judged.

The religious freedom law says the government cannot intrude on a person’s religious liberty unless it can prove a compelling interest in imposing that burden and do so in the least restrictive way.

That leaves room for interpretation. So what the law could actually accomplish, experts agree, will have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, probably in court.

Until then, the debate — fueled by fiery rhetoric that has galvanized both sides — will remain in the court of public opinion.


In Indiana, about a dozen cities, including Indianapolis, have local nondiscrimination laws that specifically protect gays and lesbians in employment, housing, education and public accommodation, which include business transactions. But in much of Indiana there is no such protection.

The concern among opponents of the law is that it could embolden people to challenge those local laws.

It’s true that the use of state-level RFRA laws has never — yet — successfully trumped local nondiscrimination laws. But it’s also true that they have been invoked in several attempts to do so.


And the situation is such in Indiana — with no state law protecting gays and lesbians, but local ones that do, and now a state RFRA — that it’s difficult to find an analogous case to explain what would happen here.

Consider this case from Washington state.

A florist, citing her relationship with Jesus Christ, refused to sell flowers for a gay couple’s wedding. A court recently ruled, even when weighing her religious convictions, that she violated local nondiscrimination laws. News reports say she turned down a settlement offer and continues to appeal her case.

The florist declined to arrange the flowers, and so in some sense this confirms the fears of religious freedom law opponents that a door has been opened to discrimination. But she lost in court, and so this backs the supporters who say RFRA doesn’t usurp local nondiscrimination laws.

But Washington is not Indiana. Washington doesn’t have a RFRA. But, also unlike Indiana, it has a statewide nondiscrimination law that covers sexual orientation.

So what would happen if a similar religious claim over same-sex weddings is made in Indiana? It’s hard to say.

“The law gives individuals and businesses the right to file litigation and go to the courts to decide whether or not their religious claims are justified,” said Robert Katz, an Indiana University-Indianapolis law professor who opposes the law.

But Daniel Conkle, an Indiana University-Bloomington law professor who supports the law, says so far no court has recognized a religious claim in that particular type of situation. But, he said, “Doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen.”


Some supportive legal scholars are frustrated that Indiana’s RFRA debate has become so entangled with politics that it solely centers on potential conflict with LGBT rights.

“It’s not right to see RFRA as a response or a reaction to what’s happening with sexual orientation discrimination or marriage,” said University of Notre Dame law professor Richard Garnett, who supports the law. “It is bigger than that.”

Most successful RFRA cases, he said, involve winning ways for underrepresented minority religions to freely exercise their beliefs around laws that were probably created without considering their faiths.

For example, in Minnesota, a state law would have required Amish buggies to use bright fluorescent signs to be seen on the roads. Applying the concepts of RFRA, a court decided public safety represented a compelling interest, but that could be accomplished with a less restrictive means of burdening the Amish faith of a simple lifestyle. The compromise: silver reflective tape and kerosene lanterns.

“What’s kind of gone south with the RFRAs,” said University of Illinois law professor Robin Fretwell Wilson, who also supports the law, “is the RFRAs are really trying to do real work for religious minorities. But they’ve been glommed onto by religious believers who are freaked out by same-sex marriage right now. They’re latching onto a vehicle that is just not designed to do what they want it to do, at a time of great social change.”

But with Indiana not having a statewide nondiscrimination law that protects sexual orientation and gender identity, the RFRA issue has become tightly intertwined with LGBT issues.

That’s what makes Indiana’s RFRA distinct from the federal law and versions in 19 other states.

During RFRA discussions in Indiana, state Republican leaders have dismissed statewide class protection for sexual orientation or gender identity. In most cities, there are no local laws that require equal treatment of gay people. That means discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation has never been expressly prohibited in most of Indiana.

After exposing the gap in LGBT protections and the political unwillingness to close it, Indiana’s RFRA debate begins for some to look like a pre-emptive move to block social currents. And therein lies the questions over intent.

Indiana is just one year removed from a battle to block marriage equality, and where the right for same-sex couples to marry was won only by a court ruling overturning a long-standing ban.

It is telling to opponents of the religious freedom act that the law was driven mostly by the same conservative Christians who lost their fights against marriage equality. It’s also telling, opponents say, that one of the law’s primary sponsors, Republican state Sen. Scott Schneider, has touted the notion — which will be an issue for the court to settle — that Indiana’s RFRA could exempt Christian businesses from having to provide wedding services to gay couples.

To some, that sounds like legalized discrimination. To others, it’s protecting religious rights.


The uproar over the religious freedom law slices lines further through Indiana at a time when the spotlight is hot on the state.

“There’s some hyperbole on both sides,” said Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union, “but it’s a genuine fear.”

“You look at something and you project onto it your feelings and, in some cases, fears,” said Curt Smith, president of the Indiana Family Institute.

In Arizona last year, the discourse became so polarizing that then-Gov. Jan Brewer — also a Republican — vetoed a similar religious freedom proposal.

“It could divide Arizona in ways we cannot even imagine,” she said, “and no one would ever want.”

In Indiana, fear-fueled misconceptions helped garner support for the law and pitted others so vehemently against it. The rhetorical hyperbole — perhaps more so than the law itself — has galvanized two constituencies while further dividing Indiana.

And it raises another question: Will the political maneuvering on both sides continue to obscure people’s understanding of the practical effects of the law?

If that happens, it begins to matter less what the law actually does than what people “think” it allows them to do — whether that is to openly discriminate against gay people or unfairly cast all Christians as intolerant.

States with Religious Freedom Restoration Acts

Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia.

Religious freedom states that have nondiscrimination laws protecting gays, lesbians and bisexuals: Connecticut, Illinois, New Mexico, Rhode Island.

Religious freedom states with cities or towns that have nondiscrimination ordinances that include either sexual orientation and/or gender identity protections with respect to employment and public accommodation: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas.

And you thought having your credit information stolen was problematic

New kind of identity theft you haven’t heard of

You surely know about the dangers of identity theft, where someone who has obtained some of your personal information, such as your Social Security number, uses that to get money (often yours) or credit. It can cause massive headaches, at the very least. There’s not just a single kind of identity theft, though. There’s one kind in particular that has been happening more often lately. You probably don’t know about it and you definitely should. It’s medical identity theft.

The Federal Trade Commission has warned consumers about this growing danger, explaining medical identity theft thusly: “A thief may use your name or health insurance numbers to see a doctor, get prescription drugs, file claims with your insurance provider, or get other care. If the thief’s health information is mixed with yours, your treatment, insurance and payment records, and credit report may be affected.”

A growing problem

Here’s how much of a growing problem medical identity theft is: There’s a Medical Identity Fraud Alliance, or MIFA. And it has studied the matter, estimating that 2.3 million Americans were victimized by it in 2014, up almost 22% over 2013. That’s a lot of people — and a fast growth rate. Worse, along with the Ponemon Institute, MIFA has surveyed Americans, finding that among victims of medical identity theft, 65%, about two-thirds, ended up spending an average of $13,500 to straighten matters out. Victims also lost a lot of time — an average of about 200 hours spent trying to resolve their cases. Can it get any worse than that? Yup, it can: the folks at MIFA found that only 10% of those surveyed reached a “completely satisfactory conclusion of the incident.” And while about a fifth of victims suffered a decrease in their credit score, almost a third lost their health insurance.

Part of the problem likely stems from cyberattacks and security breaches at major corporations, when thousands or millions of people’s data is stolen in one fell swoop. That happened recently at America’s second-largest health insurer, Anthem, for example, and even more recently at Premera Blue Cross, based in Washington State. Premera Blue Cross’ breach is believed to affect 11 million members, and a Reuters report has explained that “the attackers may have gained access to claims data, including clinical information, along with banking account numbers, Social Security numbers, birth dates and other personal data in an attack that began in May 2014 and was uncovered on Jan. 29 of this year.” See some potential problems? Right. (Anthem believes that medical information was not stolen in its breach that affected close to 80 million people.)

What to do

Fortunately, if you’re now quivering in fear, worrying about being victimized, know that you’re not completely powerless. There are some steps you can take to reduce your chances of falling prey:

Check your credit reports regularly for any strange unpaid bills that an identity thief might have generated. You’re entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three main reporting bureaus, and you can access those at To be strategic about it, you might space out your three annual copies, requesting one every four months, so that you’re getting information more regularly than once a year.

It also helps to know your Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act rights and to ask your healthcare providers if you can see your electronic health records, to check for errors — especially if you know or suspect that you’ve been victimized. Read your explanation-of-benefits statements from providers, too, to check for any fraudulent charges. Know that you can ask health plans and medical providers for an “accounting of disclosures,” too, which is a listing of who has received your records and what information they received. You should, by law, be able to get one copy per year from each provider.

Don’t give out your personal information to friends or family members so that they can access some medical care. The data from MIFA shows that about a quarter of victims had given identifying information to a friend or family member.

Be on the lookout for scams, such as if someone claims to work for a healthcare company and offers you some services for free or for a too-good-to-be-true price, requiring your Social Security number or other personal data.

If you find that you’ve been victimized — and it can take several months for someone to notice, perhaps after receiving an unexpected bill or a collections notice — report it. Many people don’t report medical identity theft. Reasons include being embarrassed (such as if they gave their information to a trusted person) or not knowing where to report it. You can report problems to your health care provider, your insurer, and federal and state authorities. You can also contact your local police department, your state Attorney General’s office, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Medical identity theft is a scary scam, but by taking certain steps, you may be able to either avoid it or minimize its damage, should it happen to you.

The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Report: DEA contributed to prescription drug shortage

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Report: DEA contributed to prescription drug shortage


Sincerity expressed before your reach the toothpaste aisle ?

PS_0199_ALWAYS_SINCERE_tRutter: Company reprograms its ‘Welcome to Walgreens’ campaign

Life as a ventriloquist’s dummy must be disheartening. The jokes are never yours. The smile on your face is carved permanently with a chisel. You spend your life in a suitcase.

Plus, your name is “Dummy.”

Walgreens employees say their existence has been like that for three years.

But the million false and manipulative daily greetings ordered by Walgreens commanders are being ditched this week. The siege on human dignity has been lifted momentarily.

Of the company’s 251,000 employees, an estimated 250,483 or so will greet you with a smiling “Welcome to Walgreens” before you reach the toothpaste aisle.
On the first 50 times this happened to me in the same store, I thought nothing of it because I am dense.

Then on the 51st time, I said to myself, “Hey, self. Something is askew.” How could there possibly be this many happy people in one drug store, and why do they like me?

Then I asked one of the smiling welcomers.

“It’s a Walgreens rule,” she said checking around to see if anyone was listening. “We have to say that to every person, or else we get in trouble.“Her unshakable theory, which others in the store confirmed, was that Walgreens infiltrated stores with secret minions to test if workers adhered to the marketing bible. And woe those who failed to achieve a proper number of cheery, smiley-faced welcomes.

“You get moved to another store if you don’t meet the rule,” she whispered to me as if she were giving the fixed result in tomorrow’s sixth race at Arlington.

The object apparently was not necessarily to spy on every worker, just to make the workers think spies were lurking.

Of course, one worker insisted that assistant managers would disappear from the universe without warning or explanation. Or maybe sent to Deerfield’s police-state headquarters for reindoctrination.

In either case, the suggestion inspired many happy robotic faces and millions of “Welcome to Walgreens.”
Deviant employees who shunned the Big Happy World of Walgreens apparently might never be seen again, she insisted. Or maybe they just moved to Florida to live with their kids. Who knew for sure?

She never suspected that I could have been the spy. Good for her sake that I wasn’t.

As grating as the ersatz “Welcome to Walgreens” greetings were, they were never as jolting as the also-required cash register exit admonitions.

That was: “Be well.”

At first, I mumbled something nondenominational. “I’ll try.”

And then I began rehearsing mini-monologues on other topics they didn’t care about either.
“Be well,” they’d say, to which I’d reply: “I’m trying. That’s why I am here. That’s why I have these three prescriptions because I have lousy post-nasal drip and this awful rash.”

The pharmacist tech would end each meeting with, “Do you have any questions for the pharmacist?”

“Yes,” I would say. “Why does humanity have such a hard time achieving world peace? What’s up with that?”

The tech would always give me that “sorry about that dementia” look.

If employees insistently engaged me in salutations they didn’t mean, I could counter with useless philosophical soliloquies.

But it wasn’t their fault. They were merely low-paid pawns in a corporate mind-control experiment. Walgreens does not care if its employees care, only that they can pretend to care.

It was Michael Polzin’s fault.

At least, Walgreens sent him out to explain that happy faces were no longer mandated under the previous penalty of excommunication or worse.

“It’s accomplished its goal of reinforcing our branding,” he told reporters, not meaning the hot-poker version applied to steers. “We’ll continue to build our relationships with customers in other ways.”

Now there’s a replacement plan to feign interest in your life. A company memo says employees should learn customers’ names and thank customers for their purchase. Plus, offer a cheery “Good morning” or “Welcome back, Mr. Smith. What brings you in today?”

To that, I will reply with a cheery, “I’m here for the Plavix or I’ll die. And my name is not Mr. Smith.”

Walgreens might instead have spent millions teaching employees how to really value the humans they encounter every day. Maybe the employees could be rewarded for unprovoked but inspired generosity.

Maybe Walgreens stores actually could be happy places instead of glum gulags. East Germany never thought of that, either.

Really caring about people could be a good thing.

We already know robot cheerfulness cannot advance world peace.

There is a lot of “lip service” to pt’s medication compliance


All healthcare professionals, PBM (Prescription Benefit Managers – Express Scripts) and insurance companies and other are all focused on pt compliance with their medications. Currently and historically, pt on-going compliance has been in the 30% range.

Many healthcare professionals seem to like to bend the truth with talking/dealing with chronic pain pts or pts with subjective diseases.  There is no clear measurement of the intensity of a pt’s pain.. unlike blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar.

Normally prescribers will not hesitate using multiple medications in treating resistant high blood pressure, cholesterol, high blood sugar or other chronic disease states… to get the pt’s lab values within “normal range” or as close to normal range as possible.

Let’s look at the normal “pain scale” in a different concept.  If a healthcare professional is reluctant to adequately reduce a pt’s pain level. Perhaps the pt’s discussion with the prescriber/healthcare provider be more in relationship to how they treat other chronic disease states.

Instead of looking at the 1-10 scale… look at your pain being 10% -100% above normal range. Lab values with any chronic condition is going to vary as much a chronic pain pt’s intensity of pain varies..

You need to ask the prescriber what the level of pain – on average – they expect you to accept.  For example, they come back with >5.. I would come back with the question.. do you target other chronic conditions with a 50%+  above accepted values as you goal..  For example, normal blood pressure range is 80/120… so at 50% above normal range is 120/180.. Is this an acceptable target range for one of your pts with high blood pressure ? Of course, a pt with a diastolic pressure (lower value ) of 120… there is a high probability that the pt will suffer a stroke or kidney damage within 2 yrs.

You might want to share this 10 yr old report on the   Consequences of unrelieved chronic pain ?

If your prescriber has not done DNA testing on you or has not hear of DNA testing in regards to fast/slow metabolism of opiates you might want to share this with them  You may need a higher dose of opiates to manage your pain because …

You may be able to “paint them into a corner” and get them to admit that they are discriminating against your chronic pain as opposed to other pts that deal with other chronic disease issues.


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