William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Sunday, 8, February, 2009

Projectile Hissy-Fit

Filed under: Medicine — williamthecoroner @ 10:12

Sometimes it is necessary. I have a recurring problem with my pharmacy. About four times a year, they short me on my prescriptions. And it is never the older, generic ones. No. It is always the priciest, newest one. When I run out, the insurance company refuses to authorize the refill, because it is “too early.”

Now, of course you do have to be careful with some drugs. They have a street value, people can use them to get high, or enhance athletic (or some other) performance. This isn’t one of those drugs. This one is for blood pressure, with no recreational use whatsoever.

So I called for a refill, and was told I could get six pills to “tide me over”. I went, picked it up, took it home, and there was ONE in it.

On trip two, I bring both bottles, and the pharmacy techs are quite resistant to changing anything-“Are you sure you have the right bottle?” Yes. “Sometimes people get confused with dosing, are you sure you’re taking it right?” Once a day, yes. “We gave you six pills yesterday…” You gave me one pill yesterday. “Oh, no the computer says it was six pills.” Here is the bottle with one pill in it, and the numeral 1 on the label. “You’ll have to talk to the pharmacist.”

I know the pills are disbursed by machine, and they’re counted by weight. Either the machine is off, or the staff are not using it properly. Personally, after doing this little fandango four times a year, I’m about ready to phone the County Auditor or the Board of Pharmacy–perhaps even the State Attorney General. Between the co-pay and the insurance reimbursement, that store is making good money from my business, and they are making crazy money if they manage to not give me a third of what I have paid for. Again, always the most expensive ones, and there is always a shortfall. I do not want to turn into a crank seeing conspiracies everywhere, but I’m getting suspicious.

The sad bit is, I am hostage to via insurance between this chain, and a mail-order chain run by the insurance company.  Though the insurance company would allow me to get three months at a time via mail order, they will not authorize anything like that walk in.  So, why don’t I do that?  Because the mail-order place sent me drugs that I was not prescribed.  Sometimes the stuff took three months to arrive, and then when I opened it, it turned out to be drugs I was not prescribed.  When I tried to return them, I could not, because “It’s been too long to process a return, and the pharmacist will be happy to tell you that the drugs are still good.”  I felt like I was in a Python skit.  Yes, the drugs were still good.  The pity of it was they were for conditions that I didn’t have.  I felt like a bunch of Vikings would appear and start singing the SPAM song.  In comparison, these folks are brilliant.

I would also like to go to the damn drugstore ONCE, get what I need and leave. But the solution is obvious. I’m going to get one of those little pill trays that pharmacists used to use on eBay, and count them myself before I leave the counter. OK–that means I will have gone over to the crank side, but how much do you want to bet I will still catch shortfalls.



  1. Can’t you switch pharmacies? THEN report them, after all you’re probably one of the few people who knows how.

    Comment by Meagan — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 10:23 | Reply

  2. If nothing else it will let them know that you are on to their shenanigans. Multiply your shortage by, say, 30 customers a day….sounds like a pretty good profit for the pharmacy. (I wonder if someone there has a mom or dad that gets free meds from everyone’s shortage..ok maybe I have gone to the crank side too;)

    Comment by OHN — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 10:32 | Reply

  3. I’m a pharmacist & do occasionally miscount (yes – I hand count everything & back count CIIs). One of our stores had a machine you were referring to & the corporation got rid of it. There were too many errors.

    Go to a pharmacy which will hand count your prescriptions. Its not that hard & the volume doesn’t require a machine. The volume required to justify the cost of those machines is >3000 rxs per week – more like a mail order pharmacy.

    Also, speak to a pharmacist – always! when this happens. Get a relationship going then your record will be flagged as needing a second count. When that happens, my tech counts, then I count. Yes – miscounts occur & they should be remedied promptly & cheerfully with an apology.

    You have a choice – exercise it & transfer your rxs to a pharmacy which will treat you as a patient and not someone purchasing produce or hair gel.

    Comment by Linda — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 10:50 | Reply

  4. Can you change pharmacies?

    Comment by Bardiac — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 11:04 | Reply

  5. This is one of the reasons we switched to a very small family-run pharmacy. CVS, Eckerd and rite-Aid have screwed us too many times to count.

    Now, we don’t have 24-hour service, but…Joe takes good care of us!

    Comment by crankylitprof — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 12:22 | Reply

  6. Around here, the “Mom & Pop” pharmacies have gone the way of Mom & Pop grocery stores. nothing but chains to go to.

    I say make ’em count in front of you. You’re the customer and can take your business else where if they don’t want to take care of you properly.

    Comment by Dan O — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 14:07 | Reply

  7. Agree- Count them out at the counter, and I’ll bet you don’t see anymore shortfalls…

    Comment by Old NFO — Sunday, 8, February, 2009 @ 19:10 | Reply

  8. My pharmacist decided once he didn’t like the way the doctor wrote the prescription. I ended up with twice the amount of pills, because he said I should be taking the medication twice a day, not once a day! Needless to say, I told my doc about it, and she had a little chat with the pharmacist. Now I have a bunch of pills left over, and apparently they’re good for three years, so I’ll be set if I ever need them again!

    I also would count the pills right there at the counter, if I were you. I don’t think you’re being paranoid, I think someone at that pharmacy has a nice little scam going on. Especially since it’s always the expensive prescriptions they miscount. And they never miscount in YOUR favor, either!

    Comment by Christina LMT — Monday, 9, February, 2009 @ 09:11 | Reply

  9. Been there and done that. I have had to do that same dance when the doctor increases the dosage but the insurance company refuses to pay for the refill because it is too soon, despite the fact it is the doctor telling me to increase dosage.

    Comment by Katie — Monday, 9, February, 2009 @ 12:04 | Reply

  10. Definitely count the pills before you take them. Every time. It won’t stop them from doing it to anyone else, but at least they will learn you are no one to be trifled with (or stolen from). Change pharmacies if you can.

    Think hard about reporting them. Or tell other customers about your experiences and suggest they count their pills, too. Or both.

    Comment by misbeHaven — Monday, 9, February, 2009 @ 12:05 | Reply

  11. Concur with the “Count ’em at the register” crowd. It sends a strong message and I would be willing to wager that the shortages will stop within a few times you do that. You may have to be forceful the first couple of times if the pharm tech says something like you’re taking up time or there’s people behind you – you’ve got to be willing to say, “so what? I’ve waited my turn, they can wait theirs.”

    H the IH

    Comment by H the IH — Monday, 9, February, 2009 @ 14:29 | Reply

  12. I can’t tell if you’re in the UK or US. But anyway, change pharmacy to a non-chain, mom&pop store. And report it to the state/federal authorities each time it happens. Generate enough paperwork, and something will start rolling at the state/federal level.

    Comment by CR — Wednesday, 11, February, 2009 @ 14:10 | Reply

  13. What a pain in the neck!! And you’re right, it’s never the generic stuff. Good suggestions about dealing with the local chain pharmacy. You might also discuss the situation and your concerns with the store manager, chain manager, your insurance company, and your HR department (assuming that your health insurance comes via your workplace.) Making a report to the Board of Pharmacy is not out of the question, either. For dealing with the mail order folks – I can’t recommend tears, which is what I ended up in one day – but it did resolve that particular problem. In my case I had to ask to speak to a pharmacist (not just the customer service person), and once it became clear that I was NOT a happy camper the pharmacist refused to speak to me without putting a resolution specialist (not sure of the title, he was willing to give me his full name, which the other two had refused to do) on the line as well. It worked, tho, he was able to understand my issue instead of repeating the same information over and over, as the tech and then RPh had been doing. I try to be persistent with these boondoogles when I can, as I work with elders and chronically ill folk who literally do not have the energy to spend on this nonsense but who get hurt by it, go without meds, believe themselves to have screwed up, etc……

    Comment by miss mouse — Thursday, 12, February, 2009 @ 20:52 | Reply

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