When this pharmacist first contacted me, he asked that I include his name, address and contact information. His attorney suggested that he hold off on that. This is anonymous. You can leave comments with your contact information, if you want to talk with him. Or send to me at email@example.com and I send to him.
Our industry is like a third world country. Perhaps like a mid-eastern country. Cut off his tongue if he swipes a lorazepam. Industries like high tech, law, accounting. When a valuable employee gets into cocaine, they actually pay for the treatment. Drug Store and Big Box companies kill the pharmacist off.
You have all been here. 7:00 PM. The cashier leaves for the day. Your technician is inexperienced and struggling. There are four people at the register. Some asshole at the drive-through has been honking. He thinks it is an express lane. There are ten prescriptions on the counter that haven’t been started. You got a headache. Right there, in front of you on the fast shelf is the 0.5 mg lorazepam. Very seductive.
From the July, 2001 issues of Drug Topics. Study by Dean Dabney, Ph.D. Georgia State University, Criminal Justice Department.
95% OF PHARMACISTS HAVE DIVERTED Rx ONLY DRUGS FOR SELF USE.
45% OF PHARMACISTS HAVE DIVERTED POTENTIALLY ADDICTIVE Rx ONLY DRUGS FOR SELF USE.
61% OF PHARMACISTS HAVE STOLEN THESE DRUGS
24% STARTED IN COLLEGE
8% OF THESE PHARMACISTS FORGED PRESCRIPTIONS
I am writing this letter to inform everyone in the pharmacy community how Wal-Mart treats its pharmacists. I am particularly interested in warning those pharmacists who Wal-Mart actively recruits to move to rural locations where they have difficulty staffing the stores.
In April 2002, I voluntarily surrendered my pharmacist license due to chemical dependency issues. This voluntary surrender was simultaneous with my entering the intensive outpatient treatment at the state’s Drug Court. The Board of Pharmacy and I stipulated that I would serve a five year suspension and then five years of probation upon my return to the practice of pharmacy. At this time, I had no savings and no income. My loss of employment and lack of savings resulted in my eviction from the house that I was living in and loss of my health insurance. Fortunately, I was able to piece together social service programs that allowed me to obtain housing and health coverage.
Per my agreed order on suspension, I completed the Drug Court program successfully, and during the same time, I participated in the State’s Recovering Pharmacist Program. I completed the Recovering Pharmacist Program after a little more than five years of monitoring approximately one year after I returned to practice of pharmacy first as an intern then subsequently as a licensed pharmacist.
In the summer of 2007, I applied to the Board of Pharmacy for reinstatement of my license. The license was reinstated on probationary status as originally agreed, and I was given a pharmacy intern license to complete 300 hours of internship and prepare for re-licensing exams.
I applied to three chain drug stores, and received offers from two of them. At all of these interviews, I fully disclosed the nature of my disciplinary action. I settled on Wal-Mart because at the time I was confident that if I kept my nose clean and followed all of the rules, I would have lifetime employment. After all, there was no reason to believe that Wal-Mart would go out of business. On the day that I completed my new hire paperwork, I provided both my district manager and the pharmacist preceptor I was working under with copies of the order reinstating my license subject still to probation. I also had my Pharmacy Preceptor and subsequently Pharmacy Manager complete quarterly reports to the State’s Recovering Pharmacist Program.
In January of 2008, I took and passed the NAPLEX and Law exams, and my license as a pharmacist was reinstated on probation. After completing the State’s Recovering Pharmacist Program, I was appointed to the Recovering Pharmacists’ Advisory Board and continue to serve on the Advisory Board.
I continued to work for Wal-Mart as a staff pharmacist, and in the fall of 2009 I purchased my first house. Please understand that the purchase of this house was a struggle, but nevertheless a significant achievement for me. Because of my financial predicament in 2002 experienced because of the loss of my license, I had destroyed my credit and cleaning it up enough to qualify for an FHA loan was nothing short of a minor miracle.
So, all has been well with me since the reinstatement of license on probation in 2007. In September, I celebrated my fourth anniversary of service at Wal-Mart. Then, on October 12 at approximately 4 pm, I was called by my Market Health and Wellness Director and I was told that I needed to meet her at the district office over 20 miles away from my store on Thursday, October 13. I did so the following day, where I was told that due to the fact that I have a history of disciplinary action against my license, effective immediately I was no longer eligible to work for the company. I was being terminated with absolutely no severance pay. This is despite the fact that I fully disclosed this information in my interviews and received above average reviews for the four years I was there, and passed the original new hire background checks. Needless to say, I was stunned and asked why this was an issue four years later. I was told it is because Wal-Mart policy has changed. The sole reason was the disciplinary action. I have no criminal conviction and I am not listed on the US Department of Health and Human Services List of Excluded Individuals and Entities.
Fortunately, I found a very good attorney who has taken this case, and on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, I completed an intake interview with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, who agreed to accept a charge of disability discrimination against Wal-Mart. I think that it is ironic that on the day before Thanksgiving last year, the Market Health and Wellness Director called me to open the store and be the only pharmacist that day because another pharmacist had called in sick and she “[had] nobody else to turn to.” A year later, I was the person filing a charge of discrimination against Wal-Mart.
I will keep Jim P. advised of how this case progresses against Wal-Mart. But please, let this be a warning to those of you who are considering going to work for Wal-Mart. Particularly those of you who Wal-Mart is begging to move to rural locations where Wal-Mart is the only pharmacy around for miles. Imagine how you will feel when Wal-Mart decides to cut you loose after moving you hundreds of miles away from your home without even a penny in severance. Don’t ask if it can happen to you, ask when it will happen.