Former CVS tech comes forward about lying to pts


Patients profiled at pharmacy counters

By Kean Bauman. CREATED Feb 23, 2015

Patients with legitimate prescriptions are being turned away at the pharmacy window. It’s something Contact 13 has been investigating for more than a year.

For the first time, a former insider speaks out exclusively to Darcy Spears to expose how some pharmacists are profiling people in need of pain pills.

“It would be left to the pharmacists’ discretion to see which prescriptions we filled and which prescriptions we didn’t,” says Rose Velazquez a former Pharmacy Technician.

Rosie Velazquez cared for patients from behind CVS. pharmacy windows for nearly 30 years. She was let go last year, but not before she saw a disturbing change.

“It was difficult for everyone. Customers were going from store to store and we can hear their frustration.” And so has Contact 13.

Since late 2013 we’ve heard complaints about many drugstores. “I went to 5 different pharmacies,” said Sean Ladner, a quadriplegic who lives with chronic pain after serious car accident.

“All Christmas Eve and all Christmas Cay, she was in pain, screaming in pain,” says Carl Chamberlan, who lost his wife to cancer.

We have heard from people suffering, in desperate need of medication. “And they refused me. I went back 2 or 3 times,” says Carl. But pharmacy after pharmacy denied their prescriptions for relief.

“I went from Walmart to Walmart, to a Walgreens to an Albertsons and back to my Walmart,” says Mary Borowski.

Contact 13 discovered major pharmacy chains were reacting to a DEA crackdown on prescription drug abuse. CVS. and Walgreens were slapped with massive fines. Some retail stores lost their license to sell controlled drugs so they put in strict procedures to fill prescriptions and started turning many patients away.

“We’ve had patients, had to go to anywhere from 5 to 10…we had one patient go to 30 pharmacies,” says Dr. Marx a pain management specialist.

“It was hard to get the medication because we would order 30 bottles from the manufacturer and they would only send us 10,” says Rosie.

Rosie says she was ordered to turn away patients who came from other stores. “We would tell them that we do not have the medication in stock and we had to lie to our customers. I really felt bad doing that.” She says a supervisor began profiling customers “She would take a look at them and if they looked rugged, she would say, ‘tell them we don’t have it.’”

What else would cause the pharmacist concern? “Tattoos definitely,” says Rosie. Rosie says a pharmacy manager was suspicious of young adults in their 20s and 30s even if they’d come directly from a hospital after surgery or being injured in an accident. She was even told to turn away husbands whose wives just had C-sections.

“’Tell them we don’t have it,’ when I knew well we did have the drug in stock.” And here’s a kicker: people who looked sick and in pain were suspect too. “Someone who actually didn’t look like they were taking very good care of themselves,” says Rosie.

Sometimes pharmacies Rosie worked at were out of certain meds. “But the majority of the time, it was just refusing the customer because of what they looked like,” she explains. She says the pain pills they did have were to be held for regular customers.

So if that’s the case, why not tell patients the truth? “Oh we’re not allowed to say anything like that! We’re just allowed to say we didn’t have the medication,” says Rosie. Many of the patients we spoke to in the last year say they were treated like addicts or, “like I was a drug dealing criminal,” says patient James Kruger.

Rosie says there is a system in place to weed out abusers, which could be done with a few clicks on the pharmacy computer. “So we were able to tell that they were either coming from a pill mill or they were trying to get the same medication twice in a week.”

CVS has never agreed to any of our requests for on-camera interviews and this time is no different. They sent us this statement: “Ensuring that patients with a legitimate medical need have access to pain relief medication is part of CVS/pharmacy’s purpose of helping people on their path to better health. Ms. Velazquez’s allegations are not consistent with our Company’s policies, procedures or values. At the same time, the abuse of controlled substance pain medication is a nationwide epidemic that is exacting a devastating toll upon individuals, families and communities. Pharmacists have a legal obligation under state and federal law to determine whether a controlled substance was issued for a legitimate purpose and to decline to fill prescriptions they have reason to believe were issued for a non-legitimate purpose. Pharmacists must evaluate each controlled substance prescription and consider a variety of factors when exercising their professional judgment as to whether or not to fill a controlled substance prescription.”

Rosie understands the dangers of abuse, but she couldn’t stand by and watch legitimate patients get caught in the middle and turned away. “That hurt me, Rosie says, “because I truly care about the customers and getting their medications and that was my job — helping them feel better.”

For more than a year we’ve been demanding answers from the major pharmacy chains, lawmakers and the Nevada Board of Pharmacy. We’ve been getting the same broad response over and over again with no meaningful solution: Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that needs to be addressed and there needs to be a balance to make sure legitimate patients get their medication. But hundreds of patients who contacted us are still in pain and have no answers.

If you’re being denied or delayed when trying to get a prescription filled let us know about. Send us an email to


237 Responses

  1. Captain Oxy. Doctor in NY. Banned fron CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid. On all control substance banned lists at every chain.

  2. Journal of Pharmacokinetics & Experimental Therapeutics is an open access journal that focuses on pharmacokinetic properties of drugs, including Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME) while underlining the importance of experimental therapeutics in pharmacokinetic research. Journal of Pharmacokinetics & Experimental Therapeutics accepts manuscripts in clinical pharmacokinetics, population pharmacokinetics, antibody pharmacokinetics, pharmacokinetics review, vancomycin pharmacokinetics, tacrolimus pharmacokinetics, pharmacokinetic drugs, pharmacokinetics intravenous, pharmacokinetics oral, pharmacokinetics renal, pharmacokinetics human, pharmacokinetics rat, pharmacokinetics mice, pharmacokinetics for children, pharmacokinetics research to promote healthy life are welcome.
    If your interested can submit your manuscript.
    That manuscript should not published in any other journal pages.
    You can submit your manuscript, to the below email id.
    Email id:
    Journal url:

  3. It’s sorta grimly hilarious, the Catch-22s we live with:
    –If we look crappy, it’s because we’re drug addicts & shouldn’t get opioids. If we look snappy, all put together, makeup on, etc, we’re obviously not in much pain & shouldn’t get opioids.
    –If we can exercise, we’re obviously not in pain & shouldn’t get opioids. If we can’t exercise, our only problem is laziness & we shouldn’t get opioids b/c all we need to do is exercise.
    –If we’re totally calm & rational, we’re obviously not in pain & shouldn’t get opioids. If we’re angry & show it, we’re obviously crazed hysterical drug addicts & shouldn’t get opioids.

    I have a whole list of these heads-they-win/tails-we-lose scenarios. It’s making me literally lose my mind a little bit every year that this insanity destroys our lives.

  4. I miss my Rite Aid and the kind ethical treatment i was once given there 🙁 They knew my condition (E.D.S. 3/ POTs) and the intractable pain associated ,my Name, they would pre order my meds to make sure they were in stock… Now I am CVS, and I I’ve literally been screamed at! And Denied a fill at the 24hr CVS (Hixson TN hwy 153 store!)They’ll fill one of my prescriptions, then lie and say they can’t fill the other one because of my insurance the next day, though I know it’s not true… I am hassled, my partner and daughter are hassled when they try and help me get my meds and I am a palliative care status patient, it disgusting! I have called their district manager three times with no call back and left a report with their 800 number to no avail…
    But I do want to give a Huge Thank You to you Pharmacist Steve ! You are a Hero to me and us at The Insufferable Movement; You gave me Hope that there Were Still pharmacist out there that horored their APA Oath, the Human Rights and Constitutional Rights of their fellow man:)
    God Bless You! Lindsay and Michael

  5. I am having a problem with adderall on back order in birmingham and surrounding area. We’ve been told it will be the middle of March before the medicine is in stock. I’ve never heard of such?

    • I’m having the same problem in Miami. They say that it’s on backorder from the manufacturer particularly the 20mg. I had this problem a few years ago and had to switch to less of the 30mg ones. It’s always in January, like the DEA decides to care for one month out of the year and then gives up. The annoying part is that they keep telling me to “try back next week”, and then tell me the same thing.

    • I know this is a late reply, but we recently had an issue like this as well. The doctor sent an electronic adderall prescription for our 8 year old and magically it was in stock. They can now send it to the pharmacy through a system and I think this should be available, no, required of every doctor’s office.

  6. I had this problem recently at a Walmart in Modesto CA. I am new to the state and it never occurred to me that the pharmacist was lying when he said that ALL Walmarts no longer accept prescription discount cards for controlled substances. I believed him until I did my homework and realized that they do indeed accept these and that I was profiled in some way. I’m absolutely shocked that this is legal and happening. Since when do people get to decide at their discretion whether a legitimate prescription needs to be filled? Ridiculous…and sad

  7. I have had all the problems mentioned above from both Walgreen’s and from CVS! Finally, I started using a small pharmacy and do not get an upset stomach when I have to get a refill!

  8. Everytime I go to Walmart the pharmacist yells at me in front of other customers and calls me a drug addict. She’s called my Dr at least 15 times says your patient should not be on these meds.. my doctor assured her that i should be. The pharmacist went so far to tell me she was black balling me in Las Vegas and I would never get any meds. I am very sick and don’t need this aggravation every month. Tomorrow I have to go there and just thinking about my blood pressure is sky high. I go to one doctor. So frustrating.

    • have u reported this abuse to the state board???

    • Wow that is absolutely absurd and I am so sorry you have to go through this! I know exactly how you feel because every month when it’s that time for me to get a refill I have so much anxiety and I’m actually going there to get anxiety medication from my doctor that I have been seeing for years now and Costco pharmacy was usually good about me getting my medicine with no problems until I was changed from clonazepam to alprazolam but then a certain pharmacist that would be there on duty started giving me problems treating me like a drug addict when I’m a mother of a toddler so obviously I don’t go in there looking all perfect and put together and last month I left my doctor’s and was supposed to get it filled on the 12th and my doctor even told me to and then when I tried to pick my medicine up the guy at the register looked confused and told me that it said it was out of stock and I was terrified because I had just asked about this the prior month to make sure with the pandemic virus going on that it would not be out of stock or anyting and she said no definitely not and I told him that and he just looked very confused like it shouldn’t be out of stock and said hold on let me go check but before he could even make it through the doorway to go back and check the pharmacist cut him off and came through saying it’s because it’s not time yet and that it’s not ready and I explained how I had went to my doctor earlier that day and that it was supposed to be ready and then he got right up in my face behind the glass very rudely and said it’s on time you’re supposed to get it but we are out of stock we don’t have it. I was unable to get a ride the following day and had to wait until the 14th and then when I received my bottle I noticed that the date on it said the fill date was on the 12th meaning they definitely had bottled it and had it ready on the 12th and lied to me saying it was out of stock causing me a huge amount of stress that it might possibly stay out of stock instead of just telling me the truth. And then whenever I was leaving that day after he got up in my face behind the glass and then went back into the other area I asked the guy at the cash register why that pharmacist is always so rude and what he has against me and the guy at the cash register just acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about and didn’t notice any rudeness of course and then the pharmacist came walking back out asking what the problem was and I just threw my hand up and walked away so I’m very anxious about getting it this month to say the least! And now have to wait from the 14th when it should have been from the 12th.

    • To complain to the Nevada Pharmacy board:

  9. After having my pain meds filled at CVS for 15 years without any issues I experienced month after month the sorry were out of stock response. Simple solution, I transferred all of my prescriptions to a small privately owned pharmacy that treats me with respect and with one exception they always had my prescriptions in stock, that one time they gave me a partial refill and had the remainder I was owed the next day. The chain stores may be slightly cheaper but my dignity and well being far exceed the difference in price.

    • I experienced the same thing with CVS so went to Benzer where i am now after three years of no problems. BUT if a person is new to them it may require some calls to the prescriber’s office for confirmation even though the script is written on fool proof paper. Industry wide this opioid witch hunt is out of control. The powers that should not be are committing wreckless endangerment. I am all in for a massive class action lawsuit.

  10. Embeda was put back on the market Jan 26, 2015. It was off taken off the market March 2011.

  11. There are no states where it is illegal for a pharmacist to lie to a customer. Or for a doctor to lie to a patient.

    • That means that no state is willing to legislate ETHICS 🙁 Since most/all laws are created by politicians… it is easy to understand why professional ethics are optional

      • I’m not a pharmacist but I am a retired nurse, nurse educator and nurse midwife. Just because there are no ‘ethics laws’, ethics are expected and implied from any healthcare provider. In any situation I have worked in, providing sound and safe healthcare was expected. Some things were addressed specifically but just because there was not a specfic law, does not change the expectation. In fact, in the Patients Bill of Rights, it states that patients have a right to have their pain adequately addressed. In fact, nurses have been fired for charting a pain level, administering some kind of medication or other appropriate modality, and checking back with the patient 30 mins later to assess the effectiveness. When I taught, we drilled into the students that treating pain was the number 1 priority unless you were first stopping bleeding or somethimg like that. I was also taught that in an effort to decrease medication errors, it was the job of the nurse and the pharmacist to make sure the doctor wrote the prescription apprpriately and in a case of an unusual dose or medication, or if something thought to be written in error, the pharmacist and/ or nurse are required to call the prescriber and discuss it. It was not expected that anyone just ignore the prescription or refuse to administer it unless it was life threatening. I believe that what is going on is extremely harmful to the patient and worthy of a lawsuit. I would love to be involved in a lawsuit against CVS. Hospitals would be considered to be violating safe practice by withholding safe meds and should pharmacies who put themselves out there to be full scope pharmacies. On top of the physiological problems caused by living in pain, there are always big rewards for pain and suffering.

    • To Hope,Well accept lieing to patients is a clear violation of both codes of ethics,ie Doctors/Pharmacist,,which can be brought up as legal charges against any professional for violation of their code of ethics.Which if I was on any jury,and noted that this Doc is willing to violate their own code of ethics for financial gain,,i certainly would question his innocents,or ability to be a Doctor,,,maryw

    • Why are they lying ? Our only pharmacy closed. 1 week before they did they called me and said they could not fully fill my pain med. They had in past always given me rest just in a few days so me not knowing they was closing leaving the whole town with NOTHING , I was fine with what they gave me . Then they tell me this was all I get for month( I normally need 90 pills for 1 month , they gave me 40. ) This all started 4 months ago and pills keep getting less each month. Next month I took to town over but had to fill early as I was robbed month before. This pharmacy calls doctor doctor conferms says she knew I was shorted when other place suddenly closed . Tells them fill. Insurance company says NOPE .. Smack goes my red flags . They now think I am a drug seller. I am the most honest person. I rarely leave my home. I take my meds exactly as on bottle. Every blood, urine test I pass . My doctor knows why I need the pain meds . I know for fact if any of the Government people causing this had my disorder they would shut there mouths.

    • Yes it is if it harms the patient

  12. […] Former CVS tech comes forward about lying to pts […]

  13. I went to have my prescription filled yesterday and was told they only had enough to fill half of it. So i called today to get the remainder.and was told it was to early to fill it . when they owed me half of my prescription for not having it in stock.

    • After I returned home from the hospital for hip surgery, my son went to CVS and was told that they didn’t have any oxycodone and wouldnt have any for 2-4 weeks! He went to Walgreens and got it. I called them a few days later to ask if they had any. The cashier hollared back to the pharmacist and said, we have some. A week later I sent him to pick up the second weeks prescription and although the script was written for a measly 20 pills, they said they can only give him 12. The indicated that while another CVS nearby had them but they would not give them to me. Went to Walgreens and had it filled.

    • This is because if you accept a partial fill you forfeit the rest of your prescription and have to get a new one for the balance.

      • It did not use to be this way. They use to fill the rest in face they would call when rest came in and now if I accept 20 pills I get punished. This is not fair. This needs to be fixed. So many are right. People see nothing but death in future , I think this is what they wanted. They need and want us to murder ourself.

      • This is only true if more than 72 hours has passed. And if more than 72 hours has passed the pharmacy is required to call the prescribing physician. This is all in accordance with 21 USC 1306.13

      • With CIIs, this is the law, but they should be reducing the day supply and notifying the prescriber

      • It depends on the state; in some you can get a partial fill & then get the rest, others (like here in Oregon) if you accept a partial refill, that’s IT for the month.

    • That’s that BS they pull! Ive learned my lesson with that one, I would have a script for 150 pills, they’d give me 30-40 and tell me that I had to forfeit the rest! Well of course I said yes, I was in dire pain….what s huge mistake! That was years ago…..I’ve learned since then NOT to do that! Or they pull THIS on you! I’ve had it with this mess and that’s exactly what it is, it definitely backfired on their asses, now you’ve got the suicide rate running through the roof, and more people seeking the meds on the street… Yes me, and I’ll admit to that, I’m tired of keeping silent due to the fact I’m scared because of NOT having my meds, my life has gone downhill since my surgery, and it would be nice to live out the rest of my life being able to do somewhat “normal” things….BUT I ONLY see death in my future, it’s overwhelming….you just give up!

      • There is another variation of this short script con. Certain drugs, like opioid slow release pain patch, are sold in sealed boxes. My patch is sold in boxes of five patches. They are never sold by the single patch. A few months after my pain management doctor switched me to the patches he sent in the script, and my husband stopped on the way home (in his scrubs yet. Those people could not have been more stupid.) I was to get a 30 day supply — 2 boxes, total of 10 patches. The tech told him that they didn’t have all the patches, they only had eight. And they would kindly give him those eight if he didnn’t try to fill the remainder of the script. When my darling got home he had what the family referrers as “that black bear pollock look” on his face. They scattered – not because they were worried about him, they were worried I was going to blow.

        He made two phone calls, the first to the next nearest Walgreens in the chain (yes, they had no patches today.) The second call was to the hospital pharmacist, someone who at that time he’d known for over two decades, to find out what exactly what kind of trouble this at and who to call.

        So, meds only sold in five patch sealed cartons. The store claimed to have only two opened boxes, each missing one patch. An addictive and attractive to street dealers drug. And the two things they failed to take account for – the critical care/ICU BSN picking up the meds (swipe tag clearly visible clipped to his scrub top) and me, the cranky retired financial auditor (MAcc) who is very, very good at finding were the holes were in the system.

        The next day I went into the store and warned the pharm manager about the issue (I play fair, I gave him his chance). He wasn’t very smart either, he treated me like. a pill addict or not quite right. While he did ask me what I did I answered quite truthfully, I was retired for medical issues. He didn’t ask me what I was retired from. He all but patted me on the head with a banal comment he would look into it.

        He should have scratched me behind the ears. I spent several hours on the phone talking to assorted government types, with the odd call to my lawyer. Fun day. And then I went off to bed…you see, I have trouble from time to time remembering to replace that patch for a day or two, and they do build up. Once a year or so I’d tell my doctor not to write the script because I didn’t need it and I didn’t like having more than a few boxes in the house.

        That next day, ’round about three in the afternoon I got the call that the full script was ready. I didn’t recognize the people behind the counter and I never saw the original crew again.

  14. I just left CVS, who claims they’ve been out of hydrocodone/apap for nearly a month, and they’re apparently out of the forms they need to order it from the manufacturer. I’ve had the same prescription filled there for years without problem. When I told the clerk I’d have to transfer all my prescriptions to another pharmacy (and there are many) she seemed completely unphased. Clearly they no longer want my business but are too chicken to say so. The sad thing is, I asked about this prescription nearly a month ago and could have arranged to transfer it to another pharmacy then if they’d been honest about not wanting to fill it. Disgusting.

    • I find it hard to believe that CVS has not switched over to the new electronic CSOS ordering system for C-II and still using the “old” DEA form 222… the new electronic ordering system has been available for at least 10 yrs. Personally, I refuse to deal with any company that expects me to BEG THEM to let me spend my money with them and I don’t understand why other people put up with companies that treat them like CRAP.

    • CVS just did that to me because I was upset over something they have lied about before. (Lying about “cannot be filled until 30 days” on the script, until my insurance called and those words magically disappeared. This time a newcPA who believes anyone on pain meds is an addict. Peroid). I spent the next two days attempting to get ahold of my doctor. I then called back on day 30 to activate the script. Suddenly, they are out of stock of Hydrocodone (long story, stops the RLS which attacks and causes damage to my heart). My insurance and family then call around to other CVS. Suddenly there is a “supply chain issue” to all CVS’s in the city. My dosage is 30mg a day, taken in 3.75mg dosages, so very much NOT near the arbitrary 90 mme. It keeps me alive.

  15. I am a previous Cvs employee as well and my store was located in a lower socioeconomic area. We were always told to tell people we did not have pain medications—all the time….! Pain medications as well as medications to treat addiction, like suboxone. Our pharmacist in charge did not want “that kind” of customer in our store. This is VERY common. We would get people coming in from another Cvs (which lied about being out of stock on certain medications—we could see in the computer that the other store had the medication in stock) and we would lie to the patients as well. We also profiled for sure—if you looked sketchy at all, then whatever you wanted, we were “out of it”—because CVS can’t be busted for saying “we are out”…!!!! I doubt it will change.

    • I’m so speechless I never could have thought such a thing. I’ve been a victim and just realizing this. Thank you

  16. I just left CVS where I normally get my prescriptions. I was told the pharmacist is on vacation and no one else can order the medication. I was told to try another store. I did and 4th store had the medication but refused to refill it. The pharmacist said the store was not in my zip code and that I should try a store closer to home. I will be contacting their district office regarding the racial profiling of me by their pharmacist. This is so disgusting. What the hell does my zip code have do with my pain and need for medication….is this 1965 or what?

    • WOW! Unbelievable. Pharmacists are now questioning MDs too. I’ve had one about once a week or two question my Rx and I’ve an active DEA, STATE controlled substances license and a special one for pain management and one for writing Suboxone for rehab!!! I’ll tell you, the people made a huge mistake when they handed their healthcare over to the government. Now there’s little we physicians can do for legit pain. It’s outrageous. People who’ve never had a day of serious pain are making decisions about people in serious chronic pain, the vast majority of whom need their medication to function. It’s getting ridiculous.

      • @CHARMER Thank you for being a doctor that cares and that is on our side. Some doctors just don’t seem to understand what we go through each month to get a little relief from constant excruciating pain. I finally have a PA at a pain clinic that treats me like a human being and has compassion. It’s a breath of fresh air. My blood pressure doesn’t shoot up when I have to see him like it does with every other doctor. It took me until my mid 30’s to find one doctor of any kind that has compassion and understanding. Docs like you guys are rare. It should be the opposite. Don’t ever lose that. We may only be a number or another face to you, but you are all we have.

        • Glad you did! They are few and far between these days. We’re getting major pressure from medical boards/DEA these days. The state just asked me for another 5 charts to review. It wastes time and stresses me out wondering what they’re looking for.

          • Omg….dont get me started with CVS. I literally went to them from the hospital, from being in the OR having surgery the day before and had 2 blood transfusions
            …i obviously did not look .y best! 5 of them turned me down, 1 even said my RX was written on “the wrong kind of paper” until I finally got my prescription filled. Now I’m in another catch 22- my DR just retired suddenly and all his prescriptions are invalid. I cannot fill my 4 prescriptions I’ve been without for 10 days because his prescriptions show up in the stupid database…hence I am being accused of having duplicate prescriptions. if these pharmacists checked further they would see his DEA # is invalid therefore his prescriptions are invalid!!! This is seriously crazy-making. I know of 1 compassionate pharmacist in LA county and he’s on vacation. Guess I’m screwed until he comes back.

Leave a Reply

Discover more from PHARMACIST STEVE

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading