Warning From a CVS Pharmacist

Warning From a CVS Pharmacist


I am grateful to the readers of The Pharmacist Activist who send me information and commentaries of which I otherwise would not be aware. Many of these messages are social media postings, some of which I have included in previous issues. I have provided one below from a CVS pharmacist whose name I do not know. One might ask how I am sufficiently confident in an anonymous commentary that I will publish it. My reasons include the facts that I have personally heard similar observations from CVS pharmacists I do know, and this pharmacist has so articulately captured these concerns based on her/his personal experience. I don’t believe that anyone would or could fabricate such a commentary. I am very sympathetic to the dilemma described by this pharmacist but congratulate her/him for taking the time to share this experience as a warning for others.

“I am writing this to spare you from suffering the same outcomes I have. This is a warning to not, under any circumstances, accept a position with CVS. It has ruined the lives of everyone I know who has worked for the company for any significant number of years. I don’t know any pharmacists in this company who have not had to take antidepressants or antianxiety medications in addition to a slew of other medications for their generally ruined health. Now, to my horror, I have realized that is happening to me as well. I was once an athlete, and now find that my ability to maintain my health has been permanently stolen now that my feet and knees are destroyed to the point that I can no longer run or even jog. I thought that it wouldn’t happen to me. At least not this fast, but don’t underestimate the damage that forced standing for 10-14 hours per day will do to you. Of course, you wouldn’t have to stand all day if you weren’t forced to be constantly doing the jobs of three people. But you will, because the intentional business model of this company is to never provide enough staff. I want to emphasize this point, because it is the foundation of a hundred other problems you will have to endure as a result. You will be expected to work at a level 10 frenzy of stress and misery while trying to type prescriptions, fill prescriptions, verify prescriptions, all while you have anywhere from 1-10 calls simultaneously ringing, shipments to check in and put away, lines of customers up to 30 feet long, and the expectation to give vaccines. Do you think you could do this with 3 technicians? How about 2? No? How about 1? HOW ABOUT ZERO? Regardless of the store’s prescription volume, you will always have half of the staff that the job requires. The staffing shortage has been absolutely crippling for years, and we were completely dumbfounded to find out that now, during the busiest part of the year, staffing hours have again been cut. So here that means that most stores have 1 to 2 technicians working when 5 are actually needed. As a result, quality of service and safety are almost nonexistent. How would you like (on top of having an already miserable life courtesy of your employer) to have your license suspended for a safety violation when it was really the fault of your employer who provided absolutely none of the logistics required to do your job correctly and safely? Don’t be surprised if it happens because I can’t tell you how many stores have expired drugs on the shelves, misfills, incorrectly billed prescriptions, misfiled documents, controlled substance inventory errors, mistyped prescription labels and so on. It is a daily occurrence. And it is compounded by constant quitting. People are always quitting because it is so miserable, so you always have new and inexperienced people working, hence an even greater propensity for errors. And don’t think the state boards of pharmacy will do anything. We’ve tried. They sit firmly under the thumb of CVS. Anything they ever (extremely rarely) do is just for show and changes nothing. Most of the time they simply won’t respond.

Any pharmacy school that doesn’t caution their students about CVS is negligent. But because many of them are, I am speaking out to make sure you know that this company will ruin your physical and mental wellbeing, your relationships, your career, your happiness, and your life.”

I encourage readers to share this commentary with members of Boards of Pharmacy and deans and faculty of colleges of pharmacy. CVS and some other chain pharmacies want to explain away these concerns by claiming that there is a shortage of pharmacists and technicians, and trying to increase technician:pharmacist ratios. However, there is NOT a shortage and any claim of such is self-inflicted because so many of their current employees quit as soon as they can and warn others not to seek employment with these companies.

I highly commend the pharmacist who voiced this warning. I would be pleased if this pharmacist sees that I have shared her/his commentary and contacts me to see if I can assist in identifying a professional and fulfilling employment opportunity. And we can be encouraged that the California Board of Pharmacy has taken the action described in the lead editorial in this issue.

One Response

  1. I purchased a computer in 1995 and dove into a news site for addicts, receiving about 500 posts a day. The biggest and most common complaints were against Walgreens and CVS

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