Tampa Bay doctor says CVS Pharmacy refused to fill prescription for COVID-19 patient

Tampa Bay doctor says CVS Pharmacy refused to fill prescription for COVID-19 patient


ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area doctor is confused and upset after a pharmacy refused to dispense medication for a patient with COVID-19. This is the first time the doctor says he’s ever been questioned about a prescription.

Doctor Speros Hampilos got a call from a patient with alarming news.

“So he called me yesterday and said doc, I was in the ER diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19 and I still don’t feel good,” said Dr. Speros Hampilos.

Leaning on 35 years of experience, the doctor wrote a script for three medications, among them, hydroxychloroquine which was approved 65 years ago to treat malaria the drug also helps people with rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

Controversy has surrounded the drug as of late as different studies are looking into whether it helps treat people sick with coronavirus.

“When my assistant gave the COVID-19 diagnosis CVS said, sorry we can’t dispense the drug,” he said.

Doctor Speros was shocked.

“This is the first time we’ve been asked for a diagnosis and was declined,” said Dr. Speros.

He called another pharmacy and got it filled right away. He reached out 8 On Your Side wanting to know more than the reason he was told over the phone by the pharmacist.

“But unless your hands are tied by corporate policy there isn’t much they can do,” said Dr. Speros.

“That’s what they told you the reason was right,” asked 8 On Your Side’s Marco Villarreal.

“Policy. We can’t dispense it for that diagnosis.”

CVS Pharmacy sent 8 On Your Side this statement:

We’re balancing the off-label use of certain prescription medications to treat COVID-19 pneumonia with the ongoing needs of patients who are prescribed these drugs to help manage chronic conditions such as lupus, HIV, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma. Our goal is to limit stockpiling of medication that could result in future shortages and gaps in care. Our pharmacies are following dispensing guidelines regarding the use of these medications for COVID-19 that have been established in certain states. In states with no guidelines, our pharmacies are limiting the dispensing for COVID-19 treatment to a 10-day supply with no refills.

Pharmacists also consider a variety of factors when evaluating prescriptions. These factors, along with a pharmacist’s professional judgement, help them to determine when it’s necessary to verify information with a physician before filling a prescription.

Dr. Speros says that’s unacceptable to patients who need that medication to battle coronavirus.

“If I would have said malaria or lupus I’d probably would have gotten it,” he said.

Doctor Speros says he has reached out to representative Gus Bilirakis with the hope this doesn’t happen again.

3 Responses

  1. Wayne: I really enjoyed reading your response. I wanted to say that in my opinion, nothing is going to change until Trump and all of his enablers are out of office. The only hope I have is that I believe Biden and Harris both have empathy and have critical thinking skills and can think “outside the box.” It starts from the top, and hopefully Biden will put qualified intelligent people in charge who will be willing to listen and acknowledge the “unintended consequences” and devastation that is being done to chronic pain patients and will not be afraid to speak out and start to fix this horror we are going through. One of many reasons IMO to vote no matter how hard Trump and his cronies try to invalidate ballots.

  2. “Doctor Speros was shocked.”

    I wonder how much more shocked the good Doctor would be if he knew that chronic pain patients have their FDA approved prescription pain medications refused for filling on a daily basis. He does not mention that it is illegal for a pharmacy to not fill a valid prescription. If they have a problem with the Rx, they can call the doctor to discuss. If they still have a problem, they can file a report with their State Pharmacy Board. But, refusing to fill, or offering to only partially fill, a Rx is not one of their options. It is illegal and they can be sued because pharmacists are not doctors. This is evidenced by the fact that there are now class action law suits underway against a number of chain pharmacies for refusing to fill valid scripts from doctors. In this instance, the law suits are dealing with pharmacists refusing to fill valid scripts for FDA approved prescription pain medications. But, the illegal action of “refusing to fill” applies to any valid scripts for any medication.

    Currently, the lawyer’s attention is on the pharmacists. Next, it will turn to those doctors/clinics that are knowingly under treating their chronic pain patients by placing them on non (medically) justifiable Forced Medication Reductions (FMRs), or stopping the patient’s medications altogether.

    Currently those doctors have their heads stuck in the sand. They believe that by placing their chronic pain patients on medication levels that would normally only be suitable for a dog or cat, they will escape persecution by the “drug police”. They do this inhumanely. They attempt to save themselves by destroying the lives of millions of chronic pain patients and (many times) causing their deaths. But, now, the “writing is on the wall” for all who care to read it. Those doctors need to realized the human rights violations they are perpetrating, As stated by one individual, they need to wake up and pull their heads out of the sand before the lawyers do it for them.

  3. Pretty clear proof Gov. and Media and Big Money is our Doctor now…

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