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i caught my now former pharmacist in a lie

queenjillybeanqqueenjillybean Posts: 46
edited 06/11/2012 - 7:51 AM in Pain Medications
I would just like to share and vent at the same time, something that many of you can certainly relate to when it comes to "pharmacy issues" and pain management.
First, I would like to say, that I am almost 42 years old, and had my first major spine surgery for my horribly diseased spine at the age of 18. I have had 6 invasive spine surgeries, 3 of which were fusions, most recent one was 6 weeks ago. I have been a MODEL pain management patient for the past 10 years. I am educated and aware of the intricacies that are involved with all aspects of pain management. I have learned to live with CERTAIN levels of scrutiny, as I am the first to state, that rules and regulations in reference to pain management are not only a necessity, but strongly feel that MORE needs to be done to hinder the hypochondriacs, seekers, addicts and abusers who put not only the patients, in jeopardy, but the healthcare professionals (includes pharmacists), as well as the general public. I GET all of this, and I repeat, I am willing to make any reasonable accommodations regarding this matter. However, what I am about to describe below, is absolutely unacceptable, unwarranted, illegal, unprofessional, discriminatory and downright dirty and disgusting.
I take several medications all prescribed by my reputable Pain Management Doctor. I have been with the same doctor for almost two years now, and prior to him, I was with the previous Pain Management Specialist for several years. I live in a rural area about 45 minutes north of one large city, and 65 minutes south of another large city. My spine surgeon (has been for over 10 years and 3 fusions) is in the northern city and my PM Dr is in the southern city. The CLOSEST pharmacy is 45 minutes south of me. I work from home, my bed to be specific, and do not have the luxury to just hop in my car and zip around the corner or down the street FOR ANYTHING. I go to my PM Dr every 28 or 29 days. I have NEVER once deviated from said schedule in almost a decade except for getting a 2 week supply as detailed below (still dated appropriate for fill requirements) I have used the same Walgreens Pharmacy for almost that long. It is an ordeal each month that I have to go to the PM Dr, just physically and logistically- and it takes ALL DAY just to drive to the dr, see him, go to get Rx's and get home...8 hours later, i have to start my workday on said days.
Prior to January 2011, I would go to Walgreens on my way home, wait for my prescriptions, my insurance ALWAYS went through, and I was on my pained but merry way. I am prescribed Oxycontin and Percocet normally, but for my post op meds, I am off the Percocet and taking Dilaudud. These are the only CII meds that i have been rx-ed for 2 years. The dosages have never fluxuated, my insurance has never varied, neither has my fill dates- (I ALWAYS turn my prescriptions in one or two days before I am supposed to start the new prescription- USUALLY ONE DAY BEFORE)
In January of this year, I stuck to my routine, and was startled when one of two regular pharmacists informed me that my insurance would not cover either of the CII meds until the DAY AFTER I was scheduled to run out. I am not confused, I did not mis-count, the label on my pills and the calendar do not lie. I respectfully asked why the sudden change, and told her that I would now be forced to be unmedicated for a day. She muttered something about "insurance companies across the board and new procedures" and turned away. She did not offer to call my Dr or Medco. She dismissed me. The tech who was at the register called me over and said that I COULD have them if I paid CASH for both prescriptions. I was confused, because I KNOW that Walgreens has a policy to refuse cash payments on scheduled medications that are denied as "too early to fill" by the insurance company. I did pay cash that day for my Percocet, and decided to tough it out missing one evening dose of Oxycontin, as I was NOT going to pay $900 for my Oxycontin to get it one day earlier. I was forced upon waking the next morning to drive 45+ minutes one way to get that morning dose) I called the Medco Help Desk, and spoke with a lovely woman who informed me that she really had no clue why this was happening, and that the pharmacist should have called the Pharmacist Help Line for Medco for an override. I let it go, and filed all of this in the back of my head- as I was concerned for my upcoming fusion in a few weeks, and worried about this happening again. IT DID. I only got a 2 week supply early January so that I could go back a few days before surgery to get my month supply. This time, the SAME pharmacist told me I had to wait an extra 2 days- same excuse about the insurance. Since I was having surgery, the 2 days would cancel out and I waited. Each time this happened, it has been with the same pharmacist. I have been stunned but never argued or made a scene AT ALL... I can say, that each time it happened after the first time, the tech would tell me after about 10 minutes of waiting, and this pharmacist would be looking over at me to gauge my response. I am certain of this. So, (sorry this is painfully long and detailed) during my recovery, I began researching like a mad woman. I came across at least 60 different personal blogs by 60 different pharmacists- all of whom but 2 consider chronic pain patients to be "junkies"... i am NOT exaggerating or generalizing- it was SHOCKING- and also understandable at some levels (most hate their jobs, retail, the public, their bosses and co-workers) Once thing I got from this is that it was time to change to an independent/ Mom & Pop pharmacy.
I went to my PM Dr this week, got my Rx's and also the name of the independent pharmacy they use. It is near my Dr, which is 20 minutes further from my house than Walgreens, but at this point, don't care. I was curious, as I had just researched my insurance policy- and there are NO QUANTITY limits set for either of my meds. I called ahead to Walgreens, just as a test. I was told they DID have my meds in stock. I asked for the date I could fill, since that day was day 29. I was told by Miss Walgreens that she could not fill these until TODAY- Friday 3/11- this was on Tuesday 3/8. Scripts dated 3/8. So, I went to the new pharmacy, halfway expecting to be told to come back in a few days, and Lo and Behold, when the pharmacist called my name to the counter, both my Oxycontin and Dilaudid were filled and insurance had approved both. Needless to say, I was happy, but angry at the same time. I called Medco, and got a supervisor, I explained all of this and the supervisor said she would call me back. The next day, I got a call that incensed me. First of all, they went to great lengths to research my history, and told me that NEVER EVER have they declined to EVER fill any of my meds for too early- OR FOR ANY REASON. She told me that although it differs by state, that pharmacists DO have the right to refuse a fill- but NOT under the guise of claiming a denial of claim when there was NO DENIAL EVER. I was told that based on the dates that I gave her, ALL of the prescriptions from January and February of 2011 SHOULD HAVE BEEN APPROVED AND FILLED on the date that i presented them.
I am way too busy with other aspects of my life to allow this to consume me. But it is just an UGLY reminder of the types of GARBAGE that Chronic Pain patients are subjected to.



  • It saddens me to read this. I too have read blogs such as "The Angry Pharmacist" and others that berate anyone that isn't two weeks from death for filling a schedule II script.
    I am fortunate and thankful for my pharmacist (who is ironically at Walgreens) . I was rather, to put it delicately, upfront with her about the treatment I had experienced in the past with other Walgreens pharmacists and I was happily surprised and heartened by her non-judgmental attitude. Turns out her father was a chronic pain patient. I am now lucky to consider her part of my complete healthcare team.

    But the sad fact is pharmacists can turn down refills for all sorts of things for"moral" reasons. Pain meds, birth control etc...

    It sucks when it happens, but has made me all the more grateful for those who do not stigmatize me. Sure they can turn me away, but I can also take my money elsewhere. Don't waste your precious energy on people like this or your hard earned money. Just be sure to let your PMD know when and why you switch pharmacies.

    So sorry this happened to you....
  • :jawdrop: WOW!!!!!!! :jawdrop:

    You handled the whole thing SO much better then I would had - I am embarrassed to say.

    I am so thankful nothing like this has happened to me ( yet!).

    So there is nothing you can do about ex phar is there? so sad :(
    L1 - S2 "gone" useless in 1 way or another. DDD. RA. Bone Spurs. Tons of nerve damage/issues. Stenosis. Both knees replaced. 50 yrs old. I had a great fall (hence my user name) at age 41 and it has been a domino effect every since.
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  • All I can say is WOW. what a horrible experience! I have been on & off of narcotics for 7 years due to chronic pain from back issues. Unfortunately in Dec of 2009 my back went out again! Since then I've been on meds daily, even more so post ALIF fusion in Aug of 2010.
    I had used Cvs for years, but in Oct I transferred all my rx to Walgreens for the very same reasons you had. Because my oxy strenght & monthly dosage had increased, I was made to feel like trash, I was in severe pain (my surgery did not go well and I'm worse now, a whole other story) I had never misused or abused any medication.

    CVS did not stock my strenght of oxy, so each month it was an ordeal! I would go in rigid brace & walker with my husband's assistance with my scripts & refills and get eye rolling! It is a horrible experience for your pharmacist to treat you in such a manner! Not only did CVS do this to me but, also to my husband with his inhaler! He suffers from asthma & copd, they refused to refill one day early, while he was having an asthmatic attack! Their advise was go to ER! Can you imagine go to the ER? Don't they have any ethics or morals or better yet common sense!

    The following day United healthcare told me had the pharmacist called they would have approved the script. Insane!

    That said Walgreens has been super, I had an issue with a bladder medication, Detrol, ins was denying it, doctor couldn't be reached for alternate .... I was in a bad way and rather then leave me without medication the pharmacist gave me 5 day supply for free while, he, doc & ins Co sorted it out.
    Moral is choosing a pharmacy is VERY important!

    Queen, sorry to read of your long struggle with your spine, you are obviously a very strong person and I hope that you find pain relief daily and strength to continue to improve your quality of life.
    God bless you.

  • Cow!! I've been with Walgreen's for years, and too have been held to the 'you can't fill this until tomorrow' routine. Like you, one time I went to refill my prescription, and the Pharmacist said my insurance denied it. I was in the drive thru, and right there I called BCBS and they had NO record showing issue(s) with my medications being denied - they weren't denied. The pharmacist turned white (I had it on speaker phone!). Script filled... Never a problem since.

    So sorry you went through all that. I would have exploded, so you handled it wayyyy better than I would have! Thanks for sharing.

    PCTF C4 - T2, Laminectomies C5, C6 & C7. Severe Palsy left arm/hand.
  • I went and read a few of these blogs which were easy to find and it's amazing what arrogant rotten people some of them are. These pharms. seem to think they are superior beings and that their customers are all morons. We should find out their identities and let their bosses read the blogs.

    Why did they get in to pharmacy?? Are they fustrated that they are not surgeons or something else? Seems like they are the exact wrong type of people to be dealing with the public.

    I have been mostly lucky so far.
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  • Please be careful before you lump all pharmacists into this category as someone who wants to deny you your medication. Most insurances have refill time limits on prescriptions. This information is handled through computers, so when your pharmacist says your insurance company denied you the one day early refill, it might be they are reading the denial from the computer screen. Maybe your pharmacist is doing you a favor by not raising a flag of trying to do an early refill. Maybe they were trying to help you out by letting you do the cash payment.

    One thing that I have found that works for me is to drop your monthly scrips off a week early so the pharmacy has time to stock your meds and reduce any possible delay. There are always two sides to a story. Frankly, I think the OP should have challenged the pharmacist to determine what the actual problem was. It could have been something as simple as the computer gives a refill date and you were there before the computer said ok.

    Just a thought.

  • I have to agree with Dave. I would have

    1 - asked the pharmacist to show me the denial.
    2 - called my insurance directly.
    3 - spoken to the manager if necessary.

    It's easy to get mad at the pharmacist but in the end you are the one who is paying the price by having to travel further. Also that pharmacist is still there and probably doing the same thing to other people.

    I have been extremely lucky with my pharmacy. But remember that this is a business transaction and you are the customer. If you aren't satisfied the management needs to know so they can correct the problem.
  • Actually, in my state, you can't drop off a schedule II script early. I have to present it the day I can fill, which is every 30 days. The only time I have had problems is when the doc has upped my dosage and told me to take more of whatever until I run out and then writes a script that reflects the new dosage.

    But I have certainly had snide remarks thrown my direction by pharmacists, and it's really demeaning.

    Since I now have a wonderful pharmacist, I don't lump 'em all together, but a few of the blogs focus on belittling just about anyone with opoid scripts.
  • I'm shocked and outraged...........not. I go to a mom&pop pharmacy and the owner is really nice, I like her, but she has one man working for her and for some reason he thinks it's his job to clean the people up who take opiates.. to rehabilitate them. I talked to the owner about his behaviour in the past and she was pretty mad, she asked me if I would write a letter so that she could put it in his "file". He had a new family which I knew from overhearing talk, and the pictures are out for all to see. After seriously thinking about it, I decided not to write the letter but to deal with him directly. For a couple yrs then everything was good, but he is starting to have attitude again. I recently had my medication changed and I honestly feel that it "irked" him or something..otherwise it is only coincidental. I have used this same pharmacy for 9 yrs, but I'm going to switch.. only thing is, never know if the next place will be worse. I've heard an awful lot of stories.

    I'm a pretty open minded and objective person and would not generalize, and I know that there is more than one side of a story, but I also know how some pharmacists think about patients who take opiates. If you ask me they should be the ones to think more with an open mind and not lump all of us together, especially when most of them have no idea what we are going through. Our integrity should not be questioned when we are there to pick up and pay for our meds, and they really should be saying "thank you" to the customer.
  • Sorry to hear all the nonsense you have been going through. I used to work in a pharmacy (prior to pain when folks still trusted me) and Medco does things different than other insurances. If you pick up meds 3 days early one month they actually expect your next month's supply to last 3 days longer. If your get your meds 3 days early for 2 months in a row they actually expect your third month's meds to last 6 extra days before paying for them.

    This crap is out of the pharmacist's control, but unfortunately not many pharmacists are very understanding. Let them suffer for one day like we suffer every day and I'd bet they would work a little harder for us. I hate being treated like a criminal when all I want is some f'n relief. Being young with piercings and a couple of tattoos make obtaining care really really freakin difficult. I have to remove all jewelry, wear long sleeves, and use my best manners and MAYBE I can get my prescription filled. And yea- the chain stores are the worst.
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