Letters, e-mails, Facebook posts, and web comments from Drug Topics readers.
Testimony from the front lines
I started reading Drug Topics in pharmacy school. I’ve been a fan of JP’s for years. I want to share my story, as an example of the kinds of things he writes about.
I was an incredibly passionate student pharmacist. I have been a pharmacist with the same major pharmacy chain since day 1, and I thank God I am not anymore.
I was fired yesterday. My supervisor called me in on my day off in order to “do a monthly store visit” and “review action plans.”
I have been very vocal recently about our unsafe staffing levels. I spoke to several PICs about standing up for ourselves and our patients and rebelling at the PIC meeting that was scheduled for the end of the week.
The past two weeks have been incredibly busy at the pharmacy (i.e., HELL). Last week we did almost 1,900 prescriptions (200 over budget).
There were troubling conversations, such as the supervisor calling about our being over on tech hours and saying we’d better have it at 178 hours by the end of the week, “no matter what it takes.”
I worked about 60 hours last week just to keep the ship from sinking. (Of course, I still only get paid for 43.5, because that is my “base” and we are “half-salary.”)
My pharmacy supervisor cited “inconsistent job performance” as the reason for my discharge.
How could we be consistent? Techs were quitting left and right, a staff pharmacist was fired, and we had floaters for three months before they gave me a new staff pharmacist.
Yes, I have been written up many times, mostly for little, insignificant, picky things. I had only two write-ups before I transferred to this district.
It would have been 11 years of service to the corporation this March.
Obviously, my technicians thought I was a great manager, because two quit on the spot (my lead tech and my
senior tech), and the others are thinking about it.
My patients loved me, and I hope they create an uproar. I fear for their safety.
Buckle your seatbelt
Regarding David Stanley’s column about the classification of Vicodin [“How do you hold two positions at once? Ask the FDA,” View from the Zoo, December 15, 2013, http://bit.ly/askFDA]:
Before Vicodin, etc., becomes CII, wouldn’t it be a reasonable idea for each state to be required to set up an instant online index of every CII-IV prescription filled in the state, with categories for name/date of birth/address/physician?
While this would not eliminate all the cheaters, it would certainly cut things back. In California, they have the CURES program (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System), where such information can be obtained, but it is an after-the-fact thing you send to the state, asking for the report.
As someone who works two days a week for a major chain, I know this would help me tremendously. As of now, I just try to filter out the phony customers and MDs. (I have seen several Do Not Fill lists for MDs.)
The paperwork, security, etc., of changing over to CII (not to mention legitimate customer anger) will be terrible, especially for the first couple of years, with all the different hydrocodone/APAP combinations that are available.
Having a separate page for each different NDC would be a nightmare. Plus, you would have to buy all these drugs in bottles of 100 only, so you could do legitimate count-backs to log in.
Dan Kaufman, PharmD
Seen at DrugTopics.com
Our article “NCPA asks for hearing on skyrocketing generic drug prices” (January 8; http://bit.ly/pricesNCPA) drew this response:
I battle this issue every day in my practice. 1,000% increases are not uncommon, and almost every category is affected in some way.
Catamaran is by far the worst at being behind on price updates. It does NO good to call them or any other company. They just tell me to send them invoices proving what I pay. I do it, and nothing every comes of it.
I used to dislike insurance companies in general; that dislike has grown to disdain and more. They don’t care ... it’s obvious.