View Full Version : Walgreens Refusal to Fill Certain Prescriptions



turnpup
09-17-2014, 12:02 PM
Today I dropped off a prescription at my regular Walgreens that I've used for nearly 10 years. A few minutes after I got home I received a call from the pharmacy stating that they wouldn't fill the prescription because the drug being prescribed "isn't within your doctor's scope of practice". My first question was to ask them why they filled it last month. The answer was that "we didn't catch it until now". I was so floored that I just hung up before saying anything I might later regret. Next I put in a call to my doctor's office but it was their lunch hour and so I haven't yet heard back from them.

In the meantime, reeling and very angry, I decided to Google this issue to see if it's happened before. To my surprise, I found the following:

http://www.wthr.com/story/23469086/2013/09/18/walgreens-secret-checklist-reveals-controversial-new-policy-on-pain-pills

I pulled up the "National Target Drug Good Faith Dispensing Checklist" link from that article and went through it. In my personal situation, every single question was a clear "yes" answer, meaning nothing to indicate a problem. Plus, my prescription isn't even for pain pills. It would fall under the "other" category. Oh, and by the way, my doctor is very much within the scope of his practice to prescribe to me the drug in question. This is complete and utter invasion of privacy! Why should I or my doctor have to explain to them what he's treating me for, and how it relates to his practice? Again, the only thing I did was present a legitimate prescription for a controlled substance. No red flags were present according to their policy.

Has anyone else had this happen? I can't wait to hear what my doctor's office will have to say. This is an outrage.

Pete
09-17-2014, 12:30 PM
Very interesting.

Obviously, there is an increased scrutiny on prescription drug abuse and the doctors who are too eager to participate.


Will be very interested to see what you learn as you step through the process.

I suspect some sort of error was made along the way and something got inappropriately flagged.

rlewis
09-17-2014, 04:18 PM
It's interesting that you brought this up right now. My wife, who is a former pharmacy technician, was sharing with me the other day that Oklahoma is also cracking down on pain medication abuse. There have been some recent high profile news articles about drug shopping and other forms of abuse. Here's a link to an article about the local crackdown. This may be why you are noticing the change right now. Officials change the rules for prescription pain killers | KFOR.com (http://kfor.com/2014/09/12/officials-change-the-rules-for-prescription-pain-killers/)

turnpup
09-17-2014, 06:18 PM
It's interesting that you brought this up right now. My wife, who is a former pharmacy technician, was sharing with me the other day that Oklahoma is also cracking down on pain medication abuse. There have been some recent high profile news articles about drug shopping and other forms of abuse. Here's a link to an article about the local crackdown. This may be why you are noticing the change right now. Officials change the rules for prescription pain killers | KFOR.com (http://kfor.com/2014/09/12/officials-change-the-rules-for-prescription-pain-killers/)

Yes, and thank you for the link. While I understand the desire of some entities to crack down on painkiller abuse, my primary issue with this is that what I was prescribed IS NOT A PAINKILLER. Has nothing to do with pain. It falls in the "other (optional)" category on their list of what to even look at. And I haven't had any painkiller prescriptions filled in maybe 15 years, if that. I tolerate pain well, so generally when I'm given a scrip for something like that I'll just throw it away.

The problem is that Walgreens shouldn't have flagged me at all under their system. All they had to do was look at my Rx history and they'd see a very short list of any types of medications prescribed to me over the years. At the very least they could've followed their own policy and called the physician if they had any question about a nexus between the type of medicine he practices and the drug he prescribed for me. It's a no-brainer.

zookeeper
09-17-2014, 07:05 PM
Yes, and thank you for the link. While I understand the desire of some entities to crack down on painkiller abuse, my primary issue with this is that what I was prescribed IS NOT A PAINKILLER. Has nothing to do with pain. It falls in the "other (optional)" category on their list of what to even look at. And I haven't had any painkiller prescriptions filled in maybe 15 years, if that. I tolerate pain well, so generally when I'm given a scrip for something like that I'll just throw it away.

The problem is that Walgreens shouldn't have flagged me at all under their system. All they had to do was look at my Rx history and they'd see a very short list of any types of medications prescribed to me over the years. At the very least they could've followed their own policy and called the physician if they had any question about a nexus between the type of medicine he practices and the drug he prescribed for me. It's a no-brainer.

Could be a new Pharmacy Tech or something, too. Have you actually gone to the Walgreens location and asked to speak to the pharmacy manager? If you're nice and explain it without alarm and as simply you have here, maybe the manager can see what's going on and put some new eyes on the case.

bombermwc
09-18-2014, 07:46 AM
It could also be that they have a new corporate mandate to pay more attention to this sort of thing. I'd agree with Zookeeper, if you speak to the PHARMACY manager (not the store one), and explain the situation, it will probably help. Just be prepared to have a regular discussion about each filling if they don't pass the word on to the next tech.

I battled Walgreens for years on flu shots through my insurance company and the folks at 15th/Air Depot in MWC (the same tech and pharmacist each time) were unhelpful, rather rude, and just flat out didn't know what they were doing. Once CVS came on the list, I went across the street and had it done in 5 minutes with a smiling staff. It appeared Walgreens was understaffed for the workload, while CVS was properly staffed to be able to assist and fill at the same time. So for Walgreens, it may be an easy way to be able to push it off and not have to fill it...who knows.

For all those reasons and more, I go to a local pharmacy for 99% of my stuff. Community folks I've known for my whole life, go to church with, etc. SOOO Much easier and they actually work with you to make sure you get the right thing for a cheap price.

Jersey Boss
09-18-2014, 08:04 AM
You should take your business elsewhere. Why go through the hassle of pleading for something that you are entitled to receive? There are many other pharmacies that would appreciate your business.

turnpup
09-18-2014, 09:14 AM
Yes, I do intend to visit the pharmacy today to discuss the situation with the pharmacy manager. I was waiting to find out what had transpired between Walgreens and my doctor's office. As it turns out, the nurse did get a call from Walgreens yesterday. The nurse said the caller was extremely snippy and accusatory with her (just as she had been with me). The nurse said she explained that the doctor's practice was a wellness practice, and not limited to his particular specialty. She explained that they focus on the whole body, listing the various things they treat, which would clearly include the condition the medication had been prescribed for. The response from the Walgreens person to the nurse was "But the doctor is a [naming his specialty]." In other words, even after being briefed on the situation by the nurse, this lady just didn't want to hear it. I can imagine she's a heck of a pleasant person to be around in general.

I just hope the person who called both me and the doctor isn't the pharmacy manager. I wish I'd remembered her name from yesterday, but it was one of those situations where I was so stunned that I didn't think about it until later. After I talk to them I will report back on what transpired.

And yes, I will definitely consider taking my business elsewhere. It's such a shame, though, because this Walgreens is literally only a few blocks from our house. But I think it'd be better to drive a little further than to have to endure being made to feel like I've done something wrong.

turnpup
09-18-2014, 05:26 PM
Update: It WAS the pharmacy manager who instigated all of this! Wow, this situation is truly insane. I went into the store with a smile on my face, was very calm and collected and made every attempt to be respectful and civil. Nevertheless, the pharmacy manager's hard-line position was, literally, "Your physician isn't authorized to prescribe [this drug]. It's not within his scope of practice. He's a [naming his specialty]. He can't prescribe [that drug] to you." Just as the nurse had done, I explained this firm's various areas of practice, what they treat, how they treat, etc. I then provided her with an explanation about a connection with what this doctor treats and the particular medication he had prescribed. It's very logical and straightforward. No matter. She was like a robot. Once again she said he "shouldn't be prescribing [this drug]."

In the end, I reminded her that yes, in fact, he has a DEA number and is very much authorized to prescribe a controlled substance, including this drug. She disagreed with me again. I then asked her if she felt his firm was practicing quackery and whether or not I should give them a heads-up that she was going to report them to the medical board. She said the conversation was over and I asked for my prescription back. She gave it to me. The end.

We will be pulling our prescriptions out of Walgreens first thing in the morning.

Mel
09-18-2014, 06:06 PM
Sounds like the witches have come out early for Halloween. I would definitely take my business somewhere else.

zookeeper
09-18-2014, 06:06 PM
Update: It WAS the pharmacy manager who instigated all of this! Wow, this situation is truly insane. I went into the store with a smile on my face, was very calm and collected and made every attempt to be respectful and civil. Nevertheless, the pharmacy manager's hard-line position was, literally, "Your physician isn't authorized to prescribe [this drug]. It's not within his scope of practice. He's a [naming his specialty]. He can't prescribe [that drug] to you." Just as the nurse had done, I explained this firm's various areas of practice, what they treat, how they treat, etc. I then provided her with an explanation about a connection with what this doctor treats and the particular medication he had prescribed. It's very logical and straightforward. No matter. She was like a robot. Once again she said he "shouldn't be prescribing [this drug]."

In the end, I reminded her that yes, in fact, he has a DEA number and is very much authorized to prescribe a controlled substance, including this drug. She disagreed with me again. I then asked her if she felt his firm was practicing quackery and whether or not I should give them a heads-up that she was going to report them to the medical board. She said the conversation was over and I asked for my prescription back. She gave it to me. The end.

We will be pulling our prescriptions out of Walgreens first thing in the morning.

Absolutely. I wouldn't keep any prescriptions there. For what it's worth (and I have no idea where you live) the Homeland Pharmacy at May & Britton is excellent. They always go out of their way to be friendly and accommodating. They also price match any other pharmacy in the metro. It's almost legend now for anybody who uses that pharmacy but three of the four pharmacists have worked together, since it was a Skaggs Alpha-Beta across the street in the '80's! Tech's don't come and go, they know us by name, and it makes a big difference. It's funny how things like that may not mean much, and it gets taken for granted - until you run into something like you have with a nationwide chain.

turnpup
09-18-2014, 06:32 PM
Well, Mel, Halloween IS our favorite holiday, but this is one witch we can live without! That is, unless she wants to come hang on the fence with the rest of our ghouls and goblins and pretend to be stuffed. Hell, she could help pass out candy. Our neighborhood is trick-or-treat central. Oh, but passing out candy wouldn't be within the "scope of her practice", now would it? :Smiley122

Zoo, we don't live real close to the Britton/May area, but I pass that way taking my kiddo to and from school every day. That might be a good option for us. They have a drive-through, don't they?

zookeeper
09-18-2014, 07:44 PM
Well, Mel, Halloween IS our favorite holiday, but this is one witch we can live without! That is, unless she wants to come hang on the fence with the rest of our ghouls and goblins and pretend to be stuffed. Hell, she could help pass out candy. Our neighborhood is trick-or-treat central. Oh, but passing out candy wouldn't be within the "scope of her practice", now would it? :Smiley122

Zoo, we don't live real close to the Britton/May area, but I pass that way taking my kiddo to and from school every day. That might be a good option for us. They have a drive-through, don't they?

Yes, they do. Good luck whatever you do - what a travesty.

Jim Kyle
09-18-2014, 07:47 PM
Update: It WAS the pharmacy manager who instigated all of this! Wow, this situation is truly insane. I went into the store with a smile on my face, was very calm and collected and made every attempt to be respectful and civil. Nevertheless, the pharmacy manager's hard-line position was, literally, "Your physician isn't authorized to prescribe [this drug]. It's not within his scope of practice. He's a [naming his specialty]. He can't prescribe [that drug] to you." Just as the nurse had done, I explained this firm's various areas of practice, what they treat, how they treat, etc. I then provided her with an explanation about a connection with what this doctor treats and the particular medication he had prescribed. It's very logical and straightforward. No matter. She was like a robot. Once again she said he "shouldn't be prescribing [this drug]."

In the end, I reminded her that yes, in fact, he has a DEA number and is very much authorized to prescribe a controlled substance, including this drug. She disagreed with me again. I then asked her if she felt his firm was practicing quackery and whether or not I should give them a heads-up that she was going to report them to the medical board. She said the conversation was over and I asked for my prescription back. She gave it to me. The end.

We will be pulling our prescriptions out of Walgreens first thing in the morning.You might do one more thing -- log into the Walgreen's web site and post a complaint to the home office. If it turns out that this is a new policy of the chain, the rest of us need to know about it -- and if it's not, the head office needs to take corrective action!

bluedogok
09-18-2014, 08:18 PM
There are so many things it could be, maybe some new FDA or state board policy....or she just could be exercising some of her perceived "authority". Definitely run it up the ladder to see where the policy comes from.

Mel
09-18-2014, 08:24 PM
Slightly OT, but when aren't I, I use the Sam's Pharmacy on SW 5th and they constantly putting up notices of upcoming changes.

zookeeper
09-18-2014, 10:03 PM
Slightly OT, but when aren't I, I use the Sam's Pharmacy on SW 5th and they constantly putting up notices of upcoming changes.

I have one problem with Sam's - some of their generic manufacturers are considered second-tier. I went through all this with a medication I took and learned more than I ever wanted to know about things like this. One of them is that you would be amazed how much a generic can differ from the patented, brand drug. And as is often the problem, many of these manufacturers just pay their fines rather than make real changes. For some drugs, it can actually be dangerous. Certain generics you should ALWAYS be told when a manufacturer has been changed for the pharmacy stock, and it can change several times in a year. But the bottom line is that WalMart and Sam's Club buys from manufacturers that others won't due to these quality control issues. The good news is that if you find a generic that works right for you, you can ask for that by name, by manufacturer at most pharmacies and they can special order and have it within 24-48 hours, no matter what's in their stock.

Mel
09-18-2014, 11:28 PM
Sam's has always put a sticker on the bottle when they change supplier's. At least the one I go to does. I have to buy generic whenever I can. With some folks it's bills or pills.

bombermwc
09-19-2014, 07:24 AM
You need to complain to Walgreens corporate. She doesn't get to decide things like that, and chances are she'll be fired over that.

turnpup
09-19-2014, 08:30 AM
You need to complain to Walgreens corporate. She doesn't get to decide things like that, and chances are she'll be fired over that.

I will be complaining to anyone and everyone applicable. My doctor is also likely to get involved, as this is a direct dig on him and his partners (who, by the way, run a very upscale, very highly sought-after practice that is most definitely NOT in any way unethical or crooked). Probably nothing will come of it (I'm cynical and jaded about this type of thing), but at the very least she will have to explain herself to a few people. The entire conversation was recorded, too, so there's no way she can deny anything she said or try to claim that I was aggressive or irrational. Thankfully I thought ahead before I went into that situation yesterday.

Having said that, there is a much greater issue here than the inconvenience of not being served at this particular pharmacy by this particular woman. The concept that the government is allowed to intrude into the doctor/patient relationship to the extent that a random Walgreens employee has been empowered to make a judgment call that overrides the opinion and expertise of a licensed doctor is simply galling. Sickening. While I understand that there are people and groups who believe the best way to counter problem pill-takers is to regulate and monitor certain prescriptions, I believe we are seeing first-hand the unintended consequences of so doing. I do not purport to know the best way to fight addiction, but I know that what is happening to me, and to physicians, cannot be allowed to metastasize. This is frightening and a further violation of our personal liberties. I don't want to get into politics, but felt a need to explain more about why I'm so upset.

MadMonk
09-19-2014, 11:18 AM
I'm curious about how your doctor will react. Please keep us updated. ;)

corwin1968
09-19-2014, 11:32 AM
Update: It WAS the pharmacy manager who instigated all of this! Wow, this situation is truly insane. I went into the store with a smile on my face, was very calm and collected and made every attempt to be respectful and civil. Nevertheless, the pharmacy manager's hard-line position was, literally, "Your physician isn't authorized to prescribe [this drug]. It's not within his scope of practice. He's a [naming his specialty]. He can't prescribe [that drug] to you." Just as the nurse had done, I explained this firm's various areas of practice, what they treat, how they treat, etc. I then provided her with an explanation about a connection with what this doctor treats and the particular medication he had prescribed. It's very logical and straightforward. No matter. She was like a robot. Once again she said he "shouldn't be prescribing [this drug]."

In the end, I reminded her that yes, in fact, he has a DEA number and is very much authorized to prescribe a controlled substance, including this drug. She disagreed with me again. I then asked her if she felt his firm was practicing quackery and whether or not I should give them a heads-up that she was going to report them to the medical board. She said the conversation was over and I asked for my prescription back. She gave it to me. The end.

We will be pulling our prescriptions out of Walgreens first thing in the morning.j

Utterly ridiculous and I would be LIVID if a pharmacist tried to dictate what my physician can prescribe to me. Please let us know if it's Walgreens policy so I can make sure to never got back there.

turnpup
09-19-2014, 12:41 PM
Corwin, if you click on the link at the very first post on this thread, there's an article from a news station in another state detailing this whole thing. Supposedly it's geared toward the people who are prescribed pain pills, but in my case it wasn't pain pills. Within that article, there's a place to click on the Walgreens policy. That's got all the detailed information, what the pharmacist is supposed to look for, what their options are, etc. It's quite disturbing.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that now I'm flagged as a problem child, even though I have done nothing wrong (this is from the linked article):

"If a Walgreens pharmacist refuses to fill your prescription for pain medication, that denial must now be entered into your online customer profile that can be seen by pharmacy staff at more than 8300 Walgreens nationwide. According to the GFD Policy, Walgreens pharmacists will also notify the US Drug Enforcement Administration that your prescription has been refused, and the pharmacy must maintain detailed documentation to justify the reason."

Lovely, isn't it?

Jersey Boss
09-19-2014, 12:56 PM
^ I hope you are not on blood pressure medicine. You did say it was not pain medication so it seems that policy should not snare you. Then again...

turnpup
09-19-2014, 01:08 PM
^ I hope you are not on blood pressure medicine. You did say it was not pain medication so it seems that policy should not snare you. Then again...

Love it! Nope, no BP meds for me. My usual pressure is around 110/65. I'm very fortunate, health-wise. Until about a year ago, I wasn't on ANY prescription meds for as far back as I can remember. Almost never went to the doctor. Still only go to the one that's at the heart of this controversy. The meds I'm on now are very few and merely for the management of typical issues for someone my age and gender. That's another reason this whole situation is a head-scratcher. When this pharmacist looked at my charts going back ten years, it would've (should've) been abundantly clear that I'm clean as a whistle. But she wasn't wanting to help me. She wanted to wield power. I'm sure everyone reading this thread knows somebody like that, someone who gets a tiny little bit of authority and crams it down everyone else's throat because they CAN.

Walgreens motto (that they force the pharmacists and techs to greet you with at the drive-through): "How can I help you be well?" Well, you can start by getting you @$^*^%$ nose out of my personal, confidential doctor/patient relationship. Then you can quit trying to practice medicine without a license. Finally, you can actually make an attempt to do some good in your field. You purport to want to help people, right, seeing as how you got into the field you're in? So how about you focus on that?

/end another rant/

Plutonic Panda
09-19-2014, 02:13 PM
You need to complain to Walgreens corporate. She doesn't get to decide things like that, and chances are she'll be fired over that.+1

I'd definitely take this up with corporate. You shouldn't let people get away with things like that.

zookeeper
09-19-2014, 07:25 PM
I'm curious about how your doctor will react. Please keep us updated. ;)

Yes, I'm as curious as MadMonk about how the doc will take this. I would also make sure you aren't flagged for any reason. It sure seems harder to trust that anything is done right these days.

Mel
09-19-2014, 07:35 PM
You have to go through more steps to get Sudafed without a script than you do Percocet with a script.

bluedogok
09-19-2014, 08:06 PM
The problem is all the measures to try and prevent drug abuse will do absolutely nothing to prevent it. What it amounts to is another "feel good" measure for the politicians to say they are "doing something" about the problem with no real results.

RadicalModerate
09-20-2014, 08:20 AM
When my wife was battling cancer (and beating it) she had a prescription for some pain pills (among other medications). I was usually the one who made the visit to the pharmacy (the Walgreens at May and 122nd). I don't recall any major roadblocks to acquiring the prescribed medications. All I had to do was to produce a valid Oklahoma driver's license and answer a couple of questions. I found it interesting that in order to get my blood pressure medication refilled a second time, I was required to make a visit to the doctor. Which was probably a good idea anyway. (btw: the pain meds were Oxycontin (sp?) and Morphine, two drugs with probably the strictest controls. go figure).

RadicalModerate
09-20-2014, 08:38 AM
Corwin, if you click on the link at the very first post on this thread, there's an article from a news station in another state detailing this whole thing. Supposedly it's geared toward the people who are prescribed pain pills, but in my case it wasn't pain pills. Within that article, there's a place to click on the Walgreens policy. That's got all the detailed information, what the pharmacist is supposed to look for, what their options are, etc. It's quite disturbing.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that now I'm flagged as a problem child, even though I have done nothing wrong (this is from the linked article):

"If a Walgreens pharmacist refuses to fill your prescription for pain medication, that denial must now be entered into your online customer profile that can be seen by pharmacy staff at more than 8300 Walgreens nationwide. According to the GFD Policy, Walgreens pharmacists will also notify the US Drug Enforcement Administration that your prescription has been refused, and the pharmacy must maintain detailed documentation to justify the reason."

Lovely, isn't it?

"Totally Sucks" doesn't come close to describing that situation.
Welcome to The Brave New World. Your 'scrip' wasn't for Soma was it? In the novel, Soma was supposed to remove all care and anxiety. If this were the case, one could cut the irony here with a knife.

turnpup
09-20-2014, 08:52 AM
^^^

Funny! Nope, not Soma. The way you describe it reminds me of Mother's Little Helper...now I'm going to have that song in my head all day. Oh well.

easternobserver
09-20-2014, 11:20 PM
You need to complain to Walgreens corporate. She doesn't get to decide things like that, and chances are she'll be fired over that.

Them pharmacist absolutely gets to decide things like that. The pharmacist is the licensed professional, not the store manager or the corporate manager. If something about a prescription seems wrong, especially for a controlled substance, the law gives the pharmacist broad discretion to not fill the prescription. Period. Any corporate policy that said otherwise would be highly illegal.

ljbab728
09-20-2014, 11:30 PM
Them pharmacist absolutely gets to decide things like that. The pharmacist is the licensed professional, not the store manager or the corporate manager. If something about a prescription seems wrong, especially for a controlled substance, the law gives the pharmacist broad discretion to not fill the prescription. Period. Any corporate policy that said otherwise would be highly illegal.

Of course corporate can certainly decide if the pharmacist is following the law correctly even if they are allowed to make that decision. A pharmacist can be wrong no matter what they are allowed to do and have to be answerable to someone for that.

RadicalModerate
09-20-2014, 11:35 PM
Them pharmacist absolutely gets to decide things like that. The pharmacist is the licensed professional, not the store manager or the corporate manager. If something about a prescription seems wrong, especially for a controlled substance, the law gives the pharmacist broad discretion to not fill the prescription. Period. Any corporate policy that said otherwise would be highly illegal.

Does the law also give the pharmacist broad discretion to fill the prescription? Even if it is from an Osteopath? (DO) I have nothing against Osteopaths (nor Chiropractors), yet I'm still a bit offended about the time--back in the late '70s or early 80's--when I visited one (a Dr. Feelgood DO) out in the country and he looked at me, over his reading glasses, and, before I said a word to him, said: "No Preludes, No Quaaludes and No Diet Pills." I was only there to get a penicillin shot that someone told me would help to prevent some form of pneumonia that was going around. Geez. Talk about jumping to conclusions . . .

turnpup
09-24-2014, 01:29 PM
Quick update—I sent my doctor the audio recording of the conversation with the pharmacy supervisor. To say he was livid would be an understatement. He immediately said he's going to file a complaint against her with the pharmacy board, and he's also going to complain to Walgreens corporate. He may have already spoken with corporate, because just a few hours after he told me this, I came home and noticed a missed call from Walgreens on our home phone. The number on the caller ID was from Arlington Heights, Illinois. Walgreens is headquartered in Deerfield, Illinois. Both Arlington Heights and Deerfield are part of the greater Chicago metro area and are only about 10 miles apart. No message was left, so I have no idea if it was a random coincidence or not.

bombermwc
09-25-2014, 07:31 AM
Keep at it! This person deserves to be corrected! Not only did the manager totally misunderstand how the law works (and is intended to work), but I'm pretty sure she's violated about a dozen corporate policies by going out on her own like this.

Track records speak volumes, and I would almost bet that she has a complaints file already. These things don't generally come out of no where.