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Walgreens - Pharmacist allowed to override doctor

Company Walgreens
Category Drug Stores and Drugs
Views 496

This just happened today to my wife with narcotic pain meds she has been on for chronic pain.She has been on these for 15+ years.

Our doctor notified us that in his opinion what Walgreens is requesting violates HIPPA and is advising all his patients to switch pharmacy. I went to the Walgreens to question them on the policy and the pharmacist picked up a preprinted card and read me a canned response telling me this is all they were allowed to say on the matter, it was one paragraph of here at walgreens we strive for customer satisfaction and safety blah blah. I then elected to have a regional manager call me to discuss the situation. I was told by this manager that it is a new company policy and they are the only ones in the industry doing it now and they suspect other pharmacys will follow suit.

They do not care how many customers will leave because of this and they are aware that some will but don't think it will be a significant amount. The policy is here to stay unless someone challenges it in court and they lose.(she says they are on firm legal footing) I understand why they are doing this but I am a little alarmed when our doctor tells us he feels it is a violation of HIPPA for walgreens to allow their pharmacists to be asking for medical records and taking on the role of doctor to review and arbitrarily decide whether you can have a certain script filled based on your diagnosis. This is a job better left to the better educated, namely the doctor who wrote the script in the first place.

Doesn't it seem silly to allow someone with less than half the education and little if any real interaction or health history be the "decider" of your medical care?I for one after 15+ years as a customer will no longer patronize walgreens, they do not deserve the business especially considering this was rolled out on the down low as it seems they were making an effort to keep it as low profile as possible by not allowing their pharmacists to discuss this new policy with the very people whose privacy they are violating in the first place. 3069436

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Oct 25, 2013  from New York, New York
Pharmacists know more about medications than your doctor does. And that is a fact. Pharmacists are required to question any script they feel is unwarranted.
Reply to PharmacyTech

Oct 26, 2013 
I am fully willing to admit we have a substance abuse problem in this country and we always will, it is a war that no society in recorded history has ever won. Problem is there is no real standard in place where the decisions can vary with little if any consistency between pharmacists in the same pharmacy. It seems this got exponentially more difficult for legitimate pain sufferers after the huge fine Walgreens was slapped with. I just wish they had a better policy that could be enforced more evenly instead of people literally planning their trips to the pharmacy based on what particular pharmacist is on duty because you don't want a hassle over meds you have been on for years. I liken it to a chain of grocery stores near me that instituted a card everyone policy to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, even if you are obviously 70 years old they still ask for your ID. A small amount of common sense I think could go a long way.
Reply to dxloat

Mar 24 
But the pharmacist does not know about disease or the human body as much as a doctor does.Pharm tech how much do you really know after only 3 months of training?Pharmacists are only chemists if they want to be a doctor they should go to medical school.
Reply to me

Oct 22, 2013  from Shelton, Washington
I recently went to refill a migraine medication 50 mg. imitrex and although the pharmacy refilled it they were charging me $98.00. When I asked why my medical insurance would not pay they told me my insurance would only allow payment for 9 tables within a 30 day period. I called my insurance and was told that was not true they allow 90 pills in a 180 time frame and that from what he say on their request screen the pharmacy themselves had written in the 30 day limits. The insurance would be fine paying for more. (my doctor prescribed for me 'as needed' not to exceed 200 mg in a 24 hour period.) The clerk at the pharmacy told me some dance story about FDA recommendations and the need to pursue other prophylactic treatment; since I have been a chronic migrainer for over 20 years and tried all; with what I am taking today being about as good as I have been.

I called and spoke to the pharmacy manager who told me he would not allow that medication to be dispensed from his pharmacy in any amount beyond 12 pills in 30 days even if he spoke to the doctor or the doctor sent another prescription. This same pharmacist had questioned me about another medication of mine and I was reluctant to discuss my diagnosis but he persisted in knowing to see if the coding fit the prescription.

I am changing to another pharmacy; reported the outcome to my doctor and am filing a formal complaint to Fred Meyer Corporation. Three things disturb me 1. why not
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Reply to Pharmacist playing God

Aug 28, 2013  from Boston, Massachusetts
Pharmacists have half the education? Apparently six years of a doctorate degree and rotations makes a person ***. You have to learn to respect pharmacists, many of whom save lives without their patients knowing it cause of some mistake by an MD. I would be quick to deamonize one the highest paying degreea in the medical field.
Reply to Anonymous

Aug 27, 2013 
I am in pain and was refused meds. I want to sue too. What reason will I sue for? I looked it up and these trolls are right, pharmacists do have a right to refuse to fill a medication. What do I do? Who do I contact? Would a lawyer let us know? :upset
Reply to Owwwww

Aug 26, 2013 
can't seem to find class action being filed by morgan & morgan. would probably be along the lines of "pain & suffering" case & "loss of enjoyment of life" if enough folks would come together & do something. connections with your local TV/radio people? would be great on "talk radio" & TV.
i too caused great big audience in my drugstore. apparently guy threatened my doctor with DEA.
he has no business in my business!
i see my doctor monthly & still being treated this way. WRONG
Reply to anonymous

Aug 19, 2013 
I really very much appreciated the Pharmacist who took the time to comment. That alone tells me they are one of the good ones who cares. I do however take issue with anyone who knows there are "bad" ones and doesn't take steps within their own company or outside it to expose misuse of power and/or policies that are harmful to patients and their wellbeing. Pain patients and their advocates must become pain warriors and champion their cause. Just because some "rotten apples" (who themselves need medical care) spoil it for the rest of us is not a valid argument for denying pain relief to those who desperately need it to perform their daily activities (like being able to sit up, etc) and to achieve any level of quality of life worth living. I agree that the austerity measures being taken are leveling the burden of cost reduction on the backs of the most vulnerable and the similarities to eugenics cannot be denied. I would absolutely love to offer my hope, strength and solidarity to anyone out there willing to speak up for themselves or others they know. Please feel free to contact me at csralls1@yahoo.com if you are interested in working together to change the stigma we all have been placed under through no fault or wrongdoing. There are 116 million Americans living in daily chronic pain. That many people would make a heck of a noise if they spoke in unison. Stand up and speak out! :) Cynthia
Reply to Granny Rall

Aug 16, 2013  from Clearwater, Florida
Unfortunately this has been happening in Florida for a couple of years now. Sick and disabled people are denied ANY pain medication from any pharmacy. It started because of Walgreens was so greedy they sold millions of oxycodone to junkies. Now they won't fill my fiance's prescription who is severly disabled and suffers in extreme pain. I think the DEA wants disabled people to kill themselves so they won't have to pay Social Security to them any more. Funny but I think there are probably a whole lot of DUI deaths, but no one is outlawing liqour are they? :(
Reply to clairev001

Jul 27, 2013  from Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Wow so many ignorant people in one post...

I love how people rant on topics they do NOT fully understand.

And by the way, if your doctor is claiming that Walgreens is violating HIPAA then they're clearly an ***. Healthcare providers can distribute PHI to another Healthcare provider as long as its in the interest of taking care of the patient. You just completely discredited your doctor with they statement alone.

Again, as the PHARMACIST mentioned the DEA is holding pharmacist accountable for prescription dispensing, not the physician. So if you want the pharmacy to dispense anything your physician writes, perhaps you need to take it up with the DEA who refuses to hold the proper parties responsible for the nonsense going on. If you worked hard for a license and you were being threatened to have it taken away or worse being held accountable for someone's death, you'd probably think twice too.

Also people need to understand Walgreens settled first. There are SEVERAL pharmacies still under investigation with the DEA and too while be changing their policies once their settlements/lawsuits are complete.

Please fully understand what you're talking about before you go pointing fingers.
Reply to Anonymous

Aug 26, 2013  from Houston, Texas
Quite simply put you're full of IT. Walgreens pharmacist and CVS and Walmart here in Houston,Texas are in essance practicing medicine for which they have no license to do so. You go to the counter and hand your legal prescription from a legal doctor who went to medical school and has a license to do so to a $8.00 an hour clerk who refuses the prescription because it's pain meds. If you ask questions then a pharmacist comes over and tells you that you don't need the medicine, you don't need the quantity,don't know the doctor,we don't fill those and last but not least we are out of stock. Now that they have defaced the prescription by writing all over it before they refuse to fill the legal precription. Walgreens is already giving shots and now they want to handle blood pressure,flu shots ,vaccines and diabetic conditions just like your doctor..but they are not a doctor. I understand the point of view that if you are going to get in trouble then you want control but you are not a doctor who has my medical records. You don't know *** about me but you are willing to make serious medical decisions about my care. You should be sued if not thrown in jail for practising medicine without a license. If I did what you guys do I would be jailed. Did I say "You are NOT a DOCTOR"!! I know you guys have a chip on your shoulder because you don't get the same respect as a doctor but that's because you are not a doctor. With your logic then maybe we should put the beer,wine,
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Reply to Mike

Jul 13, 2013 
I normally don't post on these things, but I was doing some research and stumbled upon your complaint. As a Walgreen's pharmacist (but in no way an official spokesperson), I feel compelled to comment. Sorry it's so long, but this is a touchy subject and deserves to be well explained.

I apologize for the trouble your wife is having getting her pain medication. I know plenty of chronic pain patients who go years trying to find the right team of medical professionals that understand and are willing to work with them. There is a huge social stigma, and the rotten apples that nefariously abuse the system ruin it for everyone. It seems neither the pharmacist or the supervisor provided information very well. I promise you there are good pharmacists out there working hard ever day to provide good pharmacy services to their patients.

I encourage you to remember that pharmacists are individually licensed professionals, and just because one pharmacist does not feel comfortable dispensing your wife's medication does not mean another will feel the same way. This may be the case even within the same company, as Walgreen's gives us professional license to make the final call on all things related to pharmacy practice. When I work with chronic pain patients, I try to communicate with them and learn about them. It makes it easier for me to do my job and provide pharmacy services for them if I'm kept in the loop on diagnosis, therapies, history, and
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Reply to Pharmacist

Aug 16, 2013 
Well this wasn't my experience. I was told by Walgreens to find another pharmacy even though I've been with the same pain clinic for almost 10 years, have never had an increase in meds, only a decrease in my dose. I see my doctor every other month, am held to taking expensive urine tests, paying a lot of money, and a strict pain agreement that I only use one pharmacy and inform any other doctor of the meds I take if an emergency would arise. Why then was I embarrassed at Walgreens after they have filled these same two prescriptions for the last 9 years, every month and now all of a sudden they refuse to fill them, even after speaking to my doctor where my doctor verified they are legit prescriptions and they are authorizing them? I'm doing nothing wrong, nor illegal and these meds allow me to function instead of going on disability and becoming bedridden. It's called quality of life!!!
Reply to Silentdance

Aug 16, 2013  from Clearwater, Florida
I think you must be the ONLY pharmacist to feel this way. My fiance has permanent spinal cord and nerve damage from a bad spinal fusion surgery. We HAD a great life up until this happened in 2001. He suffers in so much pain he can hardly stand to be in his own skin. Walgreens has enjoyed well over 60,000$$$ YES SIXTY THOUSAND DOLLARS of his Medicare part D payments. A year ago last May we went to the same Walgreens and were told "we dont have it, probably won't ever have it again.". No phone call to warn us. No help finding another pharmacist or pharmacy. We drove around for days and days and got the same story. We don't have it, or not comfortable. He was suicidal at this point. Then by luck we found a pharmacy to take him. Everything was fine for a few months, then they cut (not the dr.) one of his meds in HALF to 90. The dr. had ALREADY cut in half 3 months before THAT. Now they are saying that they won't fill another one because it is too expensive and the DEA only looks at their total drug cost, not individual prescriptions. So we tried to get it through his Medicare part D mail order which was a circus for 3 months. He never got that medicine. Funny but the pharmacist will only let him have morphine, not the oxycontin. The morphine makes him sleep about 22 hours per day and is giving him a MASSIVE headache, he can hardly stand it. He can't even get out of bed to make a sandwich any more. I guess this is OK, huh? I mean, it's just his LIFE!!! Now this pharmacy... Show more
Reply to clairev001

Aug 18, 2013  from Henderson, Nevada
I am having the same abuse in Las Vegas. We are being profiled at Walgreens. I feel so sorry for your horrid situation. There was a another post sayng that Morgan&Morgan are building a class action lawsuit specifically for this issue, but I have been reading conflicting strories in this matter. Yes they are suing & no there not suing. We really need to get our voices heard. I recently wrote a letter to our state senate that something needs to be done to protect the rights of legitimate chronic pain sufferes out there. We are being discriminated against in the cruelest of ways. I cant get my prescription filled anywhere either which i had been taking for four years now. I had to change my *** prescription and the new medication im on barely works. If anyone hears of any class action lawsuit let this site know, as I will do the same.
Reply to jaswars

Aug 19, 2013 
Yes! Fight back! Please free to contact me at csralls1@yahoo.com We'll file our own! It's just horrific to be treated like *** addicts. Everybody knows there's a difference between dependence on a drug for quality of life and addiction when you'll break the law if necessary to get high. Both are health issues being handled very poorly by those making the rules.

Aug 19, 2013  from Clearwater, Florida
I heard that the DEA made these cruel changes as 'guidelines' specifically so there can not be any type of lawsuit, but I will sure find out!

Aug 19, 2013 
Bless your heart! I'm so sorry! We all need to stick together and fight for equal access to the pain relief we deserve. Healthcare is a human right! No one should suffer like that and those who deny them are immoral! Please contact me at csralls1@yahoo.com I totally agree with everything you've said and know that you're fighting for your sweetheart against an uncaring system. Don't either one of you give up!
Reply to Granny Ralls

Jul 05, 2013  from Baton Rouge, Louisiana
I appreciate your post & warning! I see that most posters on here have no idea what it is like to deal with chronic pain. Instead, we are called crack heads, junkies, etc. calling all doctors quacks and greedy! While, I am not on a high dose of narcotics and I put myself through withdrawls frequently so that I assure myself the level of pain I am in & specifically where the pain is coming from. The pain meds are habit forming even if you take the dosage exactly as prescribed. For me, it pain meds have given me my life back in part, there are some things that I will never, ever be able to do again. My injury is work related as many are. The real questions that need to be included in the discussions are 'what & how are so many injuries occuring. Mine is related for the most part due to my employor's negligence, as many of my co-workers experienced similar injuries. I am just a few months shy of a year post-op & with pain meds am able to do SOME household chores, I can drive short distances, i can "smile" a little more but I am far from happy!! At one point I thought there was NO HOPE, and I would be bed-ridden & depressed for the rest of my life. I implore those posting here to think also about those of us who sincerely need pain meds and its our only hope of being able to perform even the smallest of tasks to not lump everyone as deragatory comments as you have!! Although, yes, we are physically addicted - that is the nature of the 'beast', a price we have to pay for... Show more
Reply to Dontbrude

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