I have a question/example to clarify if I understand correctly what you’re asking. I work for CVS. On December 9th, CVS’s computer systems went down for over 9 hours (about the 5th time this past year). Management starting calling each pharmacist at each store DEMANDING that they continue to fill prescriptions at a comparable rate before the systems went down. Problem: manual DUR on each fill, no prescription hard-copy images (at all) so all would have to be pulled from storage individually to process the 10th refill on a prescription, no way to check the state’s drug monitoring program on controlled medications, and these are just a few of the problems associated when computer systems go down. Along with the demand to keep pushing prescriptions out the door and into the hands/bodies of patients, management said verbally to each pharmacist, “If you don’t keep filling prescriptions you will be targeted for termination.” My response, “Send me that in writing with your name clearly printed and signed with a date and phone number where you and your supervisor can be reached because I’m going to fax the document to my contact at the Board of Pharmacy and see what they have to say about this first.” Supervisor stammered a bit and then replied, “I don’t have to do that because this is company policy.” I then said quite firmly, “Never can any company or corporate policy trump federal regulations, state laws, or rules of the governing Board of Pharmacy. Unless you send me something to send to the board of pharmacy, I will not be filling prescriptions because I feel uncomfortable with the process and think filling prescriptions at this point would endanger the health, welfare, and safety of the public and patients I serve so I will not be filling prescriptions. Perhaps CVS should be spending some money to ensure this type of problem doesn’t happen again. I have pharmacist friends working at other pharmacies and they never have complete system failures with their computers such as CVS.” I have since learned that I wasn’t the only pharmacist that balked at management’s phone call and I also wasn’t the only one to contact the Board of Pharmacy. I truly believe that corporation pharmacies have a plan in place to try and isolate pharmacists so they won’t talk to each other and learn what is going on all over the company – I believe this in completely intentional.
I sent patients away to competitors the rest of the time the computers were down. I also had to put a tech on notice that I was her PIC and that corporate policy never dictates how I perform my responsibilities as a pharmacist and she worked under my direct supervision – not the other way around. I am getting all the forms completed to write up the tech.
I did call my contact at the Board of Pharmacy (immediately after the phone call with the management) and told him everything that was going on (I said to him,”Guess what CVS in trying to pull now.”). He confirmed my beliefs and indicated I should not fill any prescription if I even felt slightly uncomfortable with the process and assured me that CVS could not fire any pharmacist for exercising professional rights in refusing to fill prescriptions.
Now, I was at another CVS pharmacy yesterday and I was able to locate a faxed document that went to all stores 3 days before the computer systems went down AND it has a paragraph where it stated that pharmacists would be terminated if they refused to fill prescriptions when the systems are down. I made a copy and brought it home with me.
Is this the kind of example you’re looking for? I also have e-mails that I have sent (with read receipts) about my concerns for health, safety, and welfare of patients and how CVS wants things done (several actually). I do have an appointment with an employment lawyer for a consult in late January to discuss these same issues for my peace of mind. I’m tired of having my position as an excellent pharmacist threatened because I insist on following all compliance issues first and putting company crap (telephone calls, etc.) as dead last in my daily responsibilities.
I hope I haven’t missed the point of what you need from us. I really want to be helpful in this process of getting back on track with pharmacy
Pay attention to this. The pharmacist above is an intelligent, confident mature person who was 50-something when he/she got his/her PharmD and became an RPh. His/her attorney asked that he/she remain anonymous in any communications that get disseminated widely. This pharmacist had a full career navigating the federal regulatory landscape. He/she is perfectly positioned to really stir it up. He/she knows the law and how to apply the law. Also, he/she entered pharmacy with no baggage. Where you and I ignore indignities and bad conditions, this pharmacist had clear eyes and said, “What the f…?” To this newcomer, it was very clear that something was very wrong. JayPee
CVS, as usual, plays the “termination” card. Is Big Evil “The boy who cried wolf”?
This letter is from a member of The Pharmacy Alliance in regards to a private initiative that TPA is developing. It is basically a Cover-Your-Ass-While-You-Demand-Your-Rights-As-A-Pharmacist program. I am convinced that Steve Ariens, TPA’s National Public Relations Director, is an expert on this. So, please don’t go off half-cocked. Do not act from anger. Join The Pharmacy Alliance and take advantage of years of experience in navigating these waters and decades of knowledge and communications expertise. Visit www.thepharmacyalliance.com
From another member of The Pharmacy Alliance. Good questions. Are member of any other organization asking pointed questions like this?
I can appreciate that the privacy issues involved with sharing information can be complicated to tackle in an equitable manner, but why have a state board of pharmacy in the first place if it can’t effectively do its job? If the state board doesn’t support the new PSE tracking system or even have any say in its implementation then I have to wonder what is the in the boards agenda? I am sorry I am in the dark here because I don’t know all the details but from over here it doesn’t add up.
If the state doesn’t want to cooperate with its own agencies or governing bodies to help enforce its own laws then I guess the answer is to quit trying because it can never be made to work? It takes a lot of work to make change and it is also very costly. Sounds a lot like what goes on Washington D.C.
What conclusion can someone come to other than drug diversion must be big business in Indiana if the state doesn’t want to cooperate with itself to slow it down? The war against drugs is won by those with the most money. So really what you are saying is that the board blames the AG and BMV for not cooperating. A political victory for those who claim they try to fight it masquerading yet another frustrating setback for those sent to fight the war without weapons.
It’s easier for the state board to blame the AG or BMV for causing setbacks and to stop functioning than to take an even handed approach at solving the problem. If the board is ineffective at doing its job maybe there is no need for a board at all?
The AG’s agenda is influenced by those who contribute to his campaign. He skirts over the main cause of prescription drug abuse while publicly patting himself on the back as he addresses the problem. In this press release he skillfully makes it look like he actually trying to do something about prescription drug abuse. However, if you read it carefully, he blames the problem on unwanted drugs left over in the medicine cabinet. He also adds that rogue healthcare providers are also to blame for diversion and boasts that “many physicians are criminally indicted for improper prescribing”. He makes no mention of how prolific poly pharmacy and doctor shopping are in his state or how profitable it is for pharmacy chains. He completely ignores this, the biggest cause of the problem or how to curtail it effectively. CVS has this guy in their pocket. Again CVS gets away with breaking laws by just paying small fines and no one spends time in jail because of it. What about all those rogue doctors that he boasted criminally indicting? Why not indict some CVS execs and put them in jail, it’s not like you don’t have plenty of opportunities because they are constantly breaking the laws. Oh yeah, I forgot they have a river of money flowing straight to the people charged with enforcing the laws it would be foolish to stop them.