From: A terrified, exhausted CVS pharmacist

Thank you Anonymous. Everyone out there please share this. Paste it to your page, news outlets, change the State and send it to your board of pharmacy, etc. Maybe someone will listen.

Dear Members of the Mississippi State Board of Pharmacy,

I am writing to beg for you to act in the interests of the patients of CVS, Walgreens, and other chain drug stores in Mississippi. I am employed by CVS, so this letter will consist mainly of my concerns with CVS practices, but I am told that other chains, specifically Walgreen’s, have similar policies and procedures.

I believe that the pursuit of profits within CVS pharmacy has reached a critical point, where the lives and health of their patients are being put in danger regularly. CVS corporate has kept their pharmacies operating on a skeleton crew for several years now, and while prescription volume and responsibilities has gradually increased over the years, staffing hours have only been cut. The Board’s decision to allow more technicians per pharmacist a few years ago, while I’m sure was enacted in the interest of safety, was actually used by CVS to stop absolutely ALL pharmacist overlap within this district. Meaning that no CVS pharmacies within this district, regardless of prescription volume, has more than one pharmacist on duty at any time. What this means is that pharmacists do not eat, have rare bathroom breaks, and are standing continuously for up to 14 hours. While CVS says they ‘allow’ their pharmacists to take breaks, the system they have in place does not allow this to happen. Because of a constant staffing shortage (which is actually enforced by corporate), pharmacists are responsible for all aspects of running the pharmacy. We are responsible not just for verifying prescriptions and counseling patients—in order to keep the pharmacy functioning, we must be cashiers (in the drive-thru and at the pharmacy counter), we must enter prescription information, count prescriptions, take out trash, answer constantly ringing phones, make ENDLESS unnecessary phone calls (which amount to high-pressure sales calls), and complete hours of required training modules. We are fully aware of our legal obligation to provide counseling for each new prescription, and are reminded regularly that we can be terminated or lose our license if we do not provide this counseling…but our employer makes no effort AT ALL to make it possible for us to provide this counseling. It is laughable to believe that CVS pharmacists have the time to counsel each new prescription when they have endless metrics that they are expected to meet throughout the day, most of which have a 15 minute time limit before they “go red” and are considered late. But who do we complain to? If we go to upper management, we are told that we are under-performing and are made to feel incompetent, unreachable metrics goals are used to make ALL of the CVS pharmacists feel as if their jobs are in jeopardy at all times. If we complain to the board, we are exposing ourselves to legal action against our license and our livelihood. If unsafe practices are exposed at CVS, the response of corporate will be to place more extreme burdens and expectations on their already laden pharmacists, with no additional help for easing these burdens.

I would like to suggest an answer for how the Mississippi State Board of Pharmacy could ensure the safety of CVS (and other retail chains) patients without allowing drug store corporations to transfer that burden directly onto the shoulders of their pharmacists. Cold calls to doctors offices by pharmacists should STOP unless specifically requested by a patient. As it is now, if a patient has enrolled one of their Rx’s in the Readyfill service, when it is close to being out of refills, THREE electronic requests are sent to the doctor by CVS. If there is no response to these 3 requests, the Rx becomes the responsibility of the pharmacist. It becomes part of our “Doctor request queue”, meaning we must make an actual phone call (which is timed—it must last at least 30 seconds or we don’t get ‘credit’). Either the doctor agrees to supplying more refills (which is considered a ‘successful’ call), or he will fail to respond or deny more refills (an ‘unsuccessful’ call). What this means is that we are overwhelming doctor’s office staff with constant calls, and patients are often kept on medication that is unneeded for extended periods of time. I work in an underprivileged area where I have many patients who see many doctors and take many medications. They frequently do not know the names of their medications or what they are taking them for. They often agree to sign up for Readyfill not understanding what this service means. Many come and pick up bags of unneeded medicine on a monthly basis because CVS harasses their numerous doctors into giving refills, then proceeds to harass the customer into coming and picking up these refills (also the responsibility of the pharmacist). I encourage the Board to interview doctor’s offices and pharmacy staff and see if they feel that these calls are serving patients in any way. Stopping unrequested doctor calls would be in the best interest of not just pharmacists and doctors, but more importantly, it would be in the best interest of patients.

Secondly, staffing minimums MUST be put in place based on prescription volume, keeping in mind that at CVS and other chains, pharmacists are not just responsible for verifying and counseling, they are also responsible for numerous other tasks and responsibilities that would be handled by other pharmacy staff at a more responsible company. Overlapping pharmacists should be a requirement at some of the busier stores, so the work burden can be eased on the pharmacist, and so they have a reasonable opportunity to take necessary breaks. Pharmacies filling a certain volume should be required to have not just a technician, but also a cashier. At all CVS pharmacies, the technicians are expected to also ring up the customers at the registers, which means that at many of the stores, the lone technician is stuck at the register helping a steady stream of customers while the pharmacist is left to count the Rx’s, verify, counsel, answer the constantly-ringing phone, and make the ever-present Dr. and patient calls. In deciding the staffing minimums, prescription volume should be the primary concern, but also what other duties are expected of the staff. If cashiering, housekeeping, and numerous metrics are part of the job description, then adequate staffing should be provided so that the primary duty, PATIENT CARE, is not neglected.

CVS has recently put into place a much-needed 2-step verification process. Most other major chains have had this in place for years. It would work tremendously well for a well-staffed pharmacy. What it means for the CVS pharmacist is that one more metric has been put into place. There is one more queue to watch and another opportunity to “go red”. It is inhumane. I have been at CVS for many years and I am currently looking for another job, as well as most of my colleagues. If we leave CVS, there will be an abundance of inexperienced pharmacy school graduates to take our place for less compensation, so CVS will not suffer the consequences of their actions at all. The occasional lawsuit from customers harmed by their practices will be settled quietly out of court for a sum of money that will be less than what it would require to staff their pharmacies adequately to begin with, so they are not being harmed financially by their unsafe practices. I have only retail experience and have found that most of the larger chains have made note of the “success” of CVS and are following suit in their practices. I am discouraged and fearful not just for my career and profession, but most importantly, for the safety of the millions of chain pharmacy customers. I am begging this State Board to make a difference in Mississippi. Protect the patients of Mississippi by demanding that their professional pharmacists are treated with the minimum amount of dignity to do their jobs well. Please.

Thank you so much for your consideration,

A terrified, exhausted CVS pharmacist

How to find a local independent pharmacy/Pharmacist

5 Responses

  1. CVS is part of the gestapo. Fnd another, a small family run independent Pharmacy, if possible.

  2. I’m afraid the only thing that will work is a national boycott against all the corporate entities bent on killing us all. If possible we must only frequent small businesses and pharmacies. Unless we all STARVE all these businesses including hospitals and doctors and pharmacies unless we have life threatening emergencies we will all suffer or die.

  3. The fentanyl seized was illicitly manufactured fentanyl, nothing like prescription grade medication that is as safe as any other medication.

    It is the only medication that BARELY touches my pain during the recent 15 hip dislocations.

    I’ve heard many pain patients screaming for fentanyl to be removed from the market. Even pain patients aren’t educated about the difference between illicit and prescription grade medication.

  4. Dont know how many people noticed this,but several nites ago on ABC TONITE they proudly displayed a huge seizure of Mexican created fentanyl and after gloating,called it “OPIOD”?????????????????????????????????????????????????????Opiods are derivatives of the God-given poppy flower and have been used since the beginning of recorded history!!Fentanyl is a combo of chemicals that are strictly man made.Just another reason for the hysteria,no one even knows how to discern the issue!So again,above board patients get treated like ravening wolves!All while just trying to function amid waves of unrelenting pain,24-7.God Help us all!And use the mail order pharmacies who do not need your life history in order to fill your prescription!!Pray that this vicious insanity will end in our lifetime!

    • Thank you for your comment. I also have some HOPE this insane experiment ends. CPP’S are the beginning f the depopulation endevour. Eliminate the weakest link and all will fall into place. Tandemount to Hitler’s extermination “research”. Being conducted under the guise of SAFETY.

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