Walgreens - Pharmacist allowed to override doctor

This just happened today to my wife with narcotic pain meds she has been on for chronic pain.She has been on these for 15+ years.

Our doctor notified us that in his opinion what Walgreens is requesting violates HIPPA and is advising all his patients to switch pharmacy. I went to the Walgreens to question them on the policy and the pharmacist picked up a preprinted card and read me a canned response telling me this is all they were allowed to say on the matter, it was one paragraph of here at walgreens we strive for customer satisfaction and safety blah blah. I then elected to have a regional manager call me to discuss the situation. I was told by this manager that it is a new company policy and they are the only ones in the industry doing it now and they suspect other pharmacys will follow suit.

They do not care how many customers will leave because of this and they are aware that some will but don't think it will be a significant amount. The policy is here to stay unless someone challenges it in court and they lose.(she says they are on firm legal footing) I understand why they are doing this but I am a little alarmed when our doctor tells us he feels it is a violation of HIPPA for walgreens to allow their pharmacists to be asking for medical records and taking on the role of doctor to review and arbitrarily decide whether you can have a certain script filled based on your diagnosis. This is a job better left to the better educated, namely the doctor who wrote the script in the first place.

Doesn't it seem silly to allow someone with less than half the education and little if any real interaction or health history be the "decider" of your medical care?I for one after 15+ years as a customer will no longer patronize walgreens, they do not deserve the business especially considering this was rolled out on the down low as it seems they were making an effort to keep it as low profile as possible by not allowing their pharmacists to discuss this new policy with the very people whose privacy they are violating in the first place.

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Matthew Brown

Feb 11, 2015 #944329 Orlando, Florida

My girlfriend is having this exact issue. We went to a walgreens in Altamonte Springs Florida, across from Florida Hospital Altamonte. She has a spinal simulator for pain management, and it has broken, and is now malfunctioning and sending electrical shocks straight into her spinal cord. To have this implant put in it required drilling holes in her vertebre...this is NOT a small procedure. This of course is causing great amounts of pain. We went to the pharmacist with a prescription given by her doctor, and we have no problem waiting for it to be verified. The Pharmacist we find out later blacklisted her, and now she cannot get ANY meds from Walgreens, even cold medications. So not only can she not get her pain meds, she cannot go to any Aalgreens for any medications whatsoever. We found this out when she went in and they treated her like she was some kind of crackhead criminal.
My girlfriend is a 25 year old blonde girl, who is clean cut, was wearing a Ralph Laurren shirt when we walked in, and carries a $300 Dooney and Bourke purse. I drove up in my Audi. We are far from looking like meth heads, or pill poppers. We just want her to get her pain meds so she can stay out of the hospital, until she can have her surgery to fix her simulator. She has been on pain meds for 9 years, and we brought all the documentation to prove this. The Pharmacist was a real a-hole for doing this to her.

3 0 Reply
disgruntled customer

May 27, 2014 #820510

I say lets get some tv stations and lawyers involved concerning this wahlgrens issue. I plan on doing this immediately. A store pharmacy has no right to your medical history without your consent and no right to photocopy your id without your consent. What whalgrens is doing is illegal in so many ways and I plan on taking action.

5 0 Reply

Oct 25, 2013 #733082 New York, New York

Pharmacists know more about medications than your doctor does. And that is a fact. Pharmacists are required to question any script they feel is unwarranted.

2 8 Reply

Oct 26, 2013 #733515

I am fully willing to admit we have a substance abuse problem in this country and we always will, it is a war that no society in recorded history has ever won. Problem is there is no real standard in place where the decisions can vary with little if any consistency between pharmacists in the same pharmacy. It seems this got exponentially more difficult for legitimate pain sufferers after the huge fine Walgreens was slapped with. I just wish they had a better policy that could be enforced more evenly instead of people literally planning their trips to the pharmacy based on what particular pharmacist is on duty because you don't want a hassle over meds you have been on for years. I liken it to a chain of grocery stores near me that instituted a card everyone policy to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, even if you are obviously 70 years old they still ask for your ID. A small amount of common sense I think could go a long way.

3 1 Reply

Mar 24, 2014 #798292

But the pharmacist does not know about disease or the human body as much as a doctor does.Pharm tech how much do you really know after only 3 months of training?Pharmacists are only chemists if they want to be a doctor they should go to medical school.

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May 27, 2014 #820533

I am also a pharm tech.Yes pharamacists know more about meds but doctors know way more about your condition.In our small pharmacy we respect the doctors decision.

5 1 Reply

Dec 28, 2015 #1084957

And yes there are idiots abusing these which doctors pharmacys and government cashed in on and now they want to make everyone out to be those idiots. They made that medication for people who need them and is a such thing

0 0 Reply
Pharmacist playing God

Oct 22, 2013 #732045 Shelton, Washington

I recently went to refill a migraine medication 50 mg. imitrex and although the pharmacy refilled it they were charging me $98.00. When I asked why my medical insurance would not pay they told me my insurance would only allow payment for 9 tables within a 30 day period. I called my insurance and was told that was not true they allow 90 pills in a 180 time frame and that from what he say on their request screen the pharmacy themselves had written in the 30 day limits. The insurance would be fine paying for more. (my doctor prescribed for me 'as needed' not to exceed 200 mg in a 24 hour period.) The clerk at the pharmacy told me some dance story about FDA recommendations and the need to pursue other prophylactic treatment; since I have been a chronic migrainer for over 20 years and tried all; with what I am taking today being about as good as I have been.

I called and spoke to the pharmacy manager who told me he would not allow that medication to be dispensed from his pharmacy in any amount beyond 12 pills in 30 days even if he spoke to the doctor or the doctor sent another prescription. This same pharmacist had questioned me about another medication of mine and I was reluctant to discuss my diagnosis but he persisted in knowing to see if the coding fit the prescription.

I am changing to another pharmacy; reported the outcome to my doctor and am filing a formal complaint to Fred Meyer Corporation. Three things disturb me 1. why not
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4 0 Reply

Feb 22, 2015 #949488 San Antonio, Texas

I was told by my doctor that the pharmacist MUST call them if they are going to make any changes to your prescription. It's illegal not to. I'm having the same issue right now. It's insane.

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Aug 28, 2013 #708159 Boston, Massachusetts

Pharmacists have half the education? Apparently six years of a doctorate degree and rotations makes a person ***. You have to learn to respect pharmacists, many of whom save lives without their patients knowing it cause of some mistake by an MD. I would be quick to deamonize one the highest paying degreea in the medical field.

3 5 Reply

Aug 27, 2013 #707774

I am in pain and was refused meds. I want to sue too. What reason will I sue for? I looked it up and these trolls are right, pharmacists do have a right to refuse to fill a medication. What do I do? Who do I contact? Would a lawyer let us know? :upset

2 0 Reply

Aug 26, 2013 #707103

can't seem to find class action being filed by morgan & morgan. would probably be along the lines of "pain & suffering" case & "loss of enjoyment of life" if enough folks would come together & do something. connections with your local TV/radio people? would be great on "talk radio" & TV.
i too caused great big audience in my drugstore. apparently guy threatened my doctor with DEA.
he has no business in my business!
i see my doctor monthly & still being treated this way. WRONG

1 0 Reply
Granny Rall

Aug 19, 2013 #702654

I really very much appreciated the Pharmacist who took the time to comment. That alone tells me they are one of the good ones who cares. I do however take issue with anyone who knows there are "bad" ones and doesn't take steps within their own company or outside it to expose misuse of power and/or policies that are harmful to patients and their wellbeing. Pain patients and their advocates must become pain warriors and champion their cause. Just because some "rotten apples" (who themselves need medical care) spoil it for the rest of us is not a valid argument for denying pain relief to those who desperately need it to perform their daily activities (like being able to sit up, etc) and to achieve any level of quality of life worth living. I agree that the austerity measures being taken are leveling the burden of cost reduction on the backs of the most vulnerable and the similarities to eugenics cannot be denied. I would absolutely love to offer my hope, strength and solidarity to anyone out there willing to speak up for themselves or others they know. Please feel free to contact me at csralls1@yahoo.com if you are interested in working together to change the stigma we all have been placed under through no fault or wrongdoing. There are 116 million Americans living in daily chronic pain. That many people would make a heck of a noise if they spoke in unison. Stand up and speak out! :) Cynthia

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Aug 16, 2013 #701257 Clearwater, Florida

Unfortunately this has been happening in Florida for a couple of years now. Sick and disabled people are denied ANY pain medication from any pharmacy. It started because of Walgreens was so greedy they sold millions of oxycodone to junkies. Now they won't fill my fiance's prescription who is severly disabled and suffers in extreme pain. I think the DEA wants disabled people to kill themselves so they won't have to pay Social Security to them any more. Funny but I think there are probably a whole lot of DUI deaths, but no one is outlawing liqour are they? :(

3 0 Reply

Jul 27, 2013 #688314 Oak Creek, Wisconsin

Wow so many ignorant people in one post...

I love how people rant on topics they do NOT fully understand.

And by the way, if your doctor is claiming that Walgreens is violating HIPAA then they're clearly an ***. Healthcare providers can distribute PHI to another Healthcare provider as long as its in the interest of taking care of the patient. You just completely discredited your doctor with they statement alone.

Again, as the PHARMACIST mentioned the DEA is holding pharmacist accountable for prescription dispensing, not the physician. So if you want the pharmacy to dispense anything your physician writes, perhaps you need to take it up with the DEA who refuses to hold the proper parties responsible for the nonsense going on. If you worked hard for a license and you were being threatened to have it taken away or worse being held accountable for someone's death, you'd probably think twice too.

Also people need to understand Walgreens settled first. There are SEVERAL pharmacies still under investigation with the DEA and too while be changing their policies once their settlements/lawsuits are complete.

Please fully understand what you're talking about before you go pointing fingers.

2 6 Reply

Aug 26, 2013 #706830 Houston, Texas

Quite simply put you're full of IT. Walgreens pharmacist and CVS and Walmart here in Houston,Texas are in essance practicing medicine for which they have no license to do so. You go to the counter and hand your legal prescription from a legal doctor who went to medical school and has a license to do so to a $8.00 an hour clerk who refuses the prescription because it's pain meds. If you ask questions then a pharmacist comes over and tells you that you don't need the medicine, you don't need the quantity,don't know the doctor,we don't fill those and last but not least we are out of stock. Now that they have defaced the prescription by writing all over it before they refuse to fill the legal precription. Walgreens is already giving shots and now they want to handle blood pressure,flu shots ,vaccines and diabetic conditions just like your doctor..but they are not a doctor. I understand the point of view that if you are going to get in trouble then you want control but you are not a doctor who has my medical records. You don't know *** about me but you are willing to make serious medical decisions about my care. You should be sued if not thrown in jail for practising medicine without a license. If I did what you guys do I would be jailed. Did I say "You are NOT a DOCTOR"!! I know you guys have a chip on your shoulder because you don't get the same respect as a doctor but that's because you are not a doctor. With your logic then maybe we should put the beer,wine,
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Feb 22, 2015 #949490 San Antonio, Texas

So, explain why a pharmacy has prescribed the same medication and amount to me for several years, but decided to extend the 30 day script to 45 days without letting me or the Dr. know. I do understand that the laws have changed, but the pharmacy was prescribing everything the same until last month when they took it upon themselves to change the length of time I had for the medication.
The funnies thing, they filled the prescription as it was written which calculates to 30 days...NOT 45! It's fine, I've spoken with my doc and she said they are supposed to call the doctor before taking it upon themselves to change anything and this particular medication legally cannot be written for longer than a 30 day timeframe.
By writing the prescription for 30 days (as prescribed), but saying it needed to last 45 days is not right.

1 0 Reply

Jul 13, 2013 #679789

I normally don't post on these things, but I was doing some research and stumbled upon your complaint. As a Walgreen's pharmacist (but in no way an official spokesperson), I feel compelled to comment. Sorry it's so long, but this is a touchy subject and deserves to be well explained.

I apologize for the trouble your wife is having getting her pain medication. I know plenty of chronic pain patients who go years trying to find the right team of medical professionals that understand and are willing to work with them. There is a huge social stigma, and the rotten apples that nefariously abuse the system ruin it for everyone. It seems neither the pharmacist or the supervisor provided information very well. I promise you there are good pharmacists out there working hard ever day to provide good pharmacy services to their patients.

I encourage you to remember that pharmacists are individually licensed professionals, and just because one pharmacist does not feel comfortable dispensing your wife's medication does not mean another will feel the same way. This may be the case even within the same company, as Walgreen's gives us professional license to make the final call on all things related to pharmacy practice. When I work with chronic pain patients, I try to communicate with them and learn about them. It makes it easier for me to do my job and provide pharmacy services for them if I'm kept in the loop on diagnosis, therapies, history, and
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4 2 Reply

Aug 16, 2013 #701081

Well this wasn't my experience. I was told by Walgreens to find another pharmacy even though I've been with the same pain clinic for almost 10 years, have never had an increase in meds, only a decrease in my dose. I see my doctor every other month, am held to taking expensive urine tests, paying a lot of money, and a strict pain agreement that I only use one pharmacy and inform any other doctor of the meds I take if an emergency would arise. Why then was I embarrassed at Walgreens after they have filled these same two prescriptions for the last 9 years, every month and now all of a sudden they refuse to fill them, even after speaking to my doctor where my doctor verified they are legit prescriptions and they are authorizing them? I'm doing nothing wrong, nor illegal and these meds allow me to function instead of going on disability and becoming bedridden. It's called quality of life!!!

6 0 Reply
Granny Ralls

Aug 19, 2013 #702662

Amen! Speak out! :) Cynthia

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