Whistle Blower Takes a Shot, a BIG Shot. “Take That, Big Evil”.

Jp Enlarged

This is not frivolous.  They have been preparing this for months.  ”Go, Joe”.  This story is not in the Business Section of the Harrisburg Weekly Shopper.  It is a feature in the Wall Street Journal.  A WSJ investigative reporter in Atlanta has a file cabinet full of damning evidence on Big Evil.  Perhaps now, finally, they will let him loose.

    The Wall Street Journal

A veteran pharmacist, who worked at CVS Caremark Corp. CVS +0.31%until last year, filed a civil lawsuit against his former employer this week, alleging he was wrongfully discharged—in part, because he complained to management that staff cutbacks were contributing to increased pressure on pharmacists, causing prescribing errors.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday at a U.S. District Court in Harrisburg, Pa., is one of the latest developments reflecting the growing tension between chain pharmacists and their employers, as drugstores increase prescription output in the face of a historic slump in revenue. The case is unusual, though, because previous complaints by druggists over their work environments have been mostly lodged with state boards of pharmacy—and not in federal court.

The plaintiff, Joseph Zorek, of Harrisburg, Pa., also has another lawsuit pending against CVS in Pennsylvania state court. In that suit, filed while he was still an employee, he alleged that CVS harassed him and tried relocating him after he raised similar staffing concerns.

Mr. Zorek, 61 years old, was employed as a pharmacy manager at a 24-hour CVS in Harrisburg until last year that was the “area’s busiest,” according to the lawsuit. His lawsuit asserts that in early 2011, a 20% cutback in pharmacy technician hours led to “a greater number of mistakes in filling and labeling prescriptions.” He and his staff were “berated…for not meeting the prescription sales metrics,” by the store’s district manager and others, the lawsuit alleges.

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CVS Caremark, the nation’s second largest pharmacy chain by store count, denies the allegations in Mr. Zorek’s lawsuits and plans to defend the case vigorously, said Michael DeAngelis, a company spokesman. “The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety,” he added.

Since the case involves pending litigation, Mr. DeAngelis said the company had no further comment.

U.S. spending on prescription medications in 2012 fell for the first time in almost six decades, according to a May report from IMS Health Inc., which tracks prescription drug sales. The trend is driven by increasing use of generic drugs, which are more profitable than branded medications but bring in less revenue—a challenge for retail pharmacies with high fixed costs.

Prescription drug volume totaled four billion scripts last year, nearly doubling from the 2.2 billion in 1996, IMS said. During that time frame, however, the number of U.S. retail drugstores remained roughly constant at around 55,000 locations.

According to a 2011 survey by the Oregon board of pharmacy, 75% of the state’s chain pharmacists said their work environment didn’t support patient safety. That report led to the state having more powers to levy fines, or even revoke a pharmacy’s license, if work conditions were endangering safety.

Over the past decade, pharmacists have filed a growing number of complaints with state boards and legislatures claiming lengthy daily shifts and the lack of work breaks, said Laura Carpenter, a Phoenix-based lawyer and president-elect of the American Society for Pharmacy Law, a nonprofit industry group.

Write to Timothy W. Martin at timothy.martin@wsj.com

9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. broncofan7  •  Jul 23, 2013 @9:30 am

    Best wishes for a JUST verdict!

  2. pharmer  •  Jul 23, 2013 @10:21 am

    “The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety,”

    Corporate deniability!! Why is it that every time an individual or group of individuals complain the corporations dream up these kind of statements who the employees know is blatently untrue. I think they go to corporate bullshit school!!!

    Wishing the pharmacist the best in his case and hope he wins. Remember this case affects ALL OF US not just this 1 pharmacist. He is ONE OF US no matter who you work for or where you work. We should help his case in any way we can!!

  3. Mookie  •  Jul 23, 2013 @11:58 am

    Pharmer
    I have to laugh every time the Deangelis guy opens his mouth. He really needs to go into politics because everything he says is fake and a bunch of bullshit. .

  4. pharmacyslave2000  •  Jul 23, 2013 @4:21 pm

    Good luck to Mr. Zorek. I would love to see him fight this battle to the death and not take the easy “hush” money.

  5. Whistleblower  •  Jul 23, 2013 @8:22 pm

    My promise to all…full disclosure …many thanks for all the support. Nothing will silence me!

  6. AJ  •  Jul 23, 2013 @8:50 pm

    I hope he has excellent documentation of all the errors the reduced hours have caused. The problem is CVS can bring in evidence that 6000 plus stores don’t have a problem operating with the same staffing he was allowed. It will be a tough sell.

  7. Pharmaciststeve  •  Jul 23, 2013 @9:02 pm

    @Pharmer… you are right.. this is about all of us… unfortunately too many of us either have their head in the sand and/or just sitting on their hands..

    Myself personally and The Pharmacy Alliance has been encouraging Joe for the last yr +.

  8. Peon  •  Jul 24, 2013 @6:34 am

    My best wishes go to Joe.

  9. cvsconsumesyoursoul  •  Jul 29, 2013 @4:35 pm

    I hope to god there is a verdict here. Joe DO NOT take hush money. That will come in time. CVS just paid to settle with the DEA ONCE AGAIN in Oklahoma a few months ago. This company needs a major bitch slap. Sadly most pharmacists would rather cower in the corner then jump on the bandwagon. I have tried to organize a union locally and most pharmacists I talked to refused to acknowledge there is a problem. Some hung up on me. I have tried to get legal recourse and the lawyers I approached wouldn’t take the case. My board of pharmacy is completely worthless and in bed with CVS. So if the agencies that supposedly govern the practice of pharmacy are bought out by CVS, how in the hell are you going to do anything to change your working conditions? I hope this is big and I hope they uncover a slew of errors that were purposefully covered up by CVS. Their M.O. is to just pay fines and get away with hush money. It’s sad that I have to have a lawyer on speed dial to be able to function at work. It’s equally sad when I tried to organize a union that nobody wanted part of it. Is this what it has come down to? I guess we are all destined to be robo dispensers with a life expectancy of 55…pricks..

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