A while back, a pharmacist where I filled my prescriptions went out of her way to do a very nice thing.  At the time, I was contemplating switching to a pharmacy closer to my home, but that little (big) act of kindness kept my business at that store longer than I intended.

Without going into tons of detail, the pharmacy tried to phone me, but the call wouldn’t go through.  For some reason the pharmacy’s telephone system won’t let them call a different area code.  How stupid is that?  Pharmacists can be trusted to work with money and lots of expensive medications, but they can’t be trusted to call patients about their prescriptions because it might run up the corporate phone bill?

Since it’s not a long distance call, just a different area code, it’s an incredibly stupid policy.

Anyhow, after trying all morning and finally figuring out that it was the phone system’s problem and the call would never go through, the pharmacist used her personal cell phone to call me when she took her lunch break.  She didn’t say she was on her lunch break, but it’s easy enough to look at the clock and figure that one out; I know when the pharmacy closes for lunch.  It was really nice of her to follow up instead of just shrugging it off and saying that they’d tried to call but couldn’t get through.

I’d send a thank-you note, but she doesn’t usually work at that store and I didn’t get her name.  Belated thank you to that very helpful pharmacist.

How much?!

It just shouldn’t be hard to get a refill on the medicines I’m taking:

  • phone the pharmacy to refill prescriptions
  • show up the next day to pick up refills
  • pay

Simple, right?

Note that this is about my old pharmacy, not the new one.  For quite a while the pharmacy had been having difficulties, which is why I never trust the pharmacy, and sometimes I hate my pharmacy.  Between the distance and the frustrations I had dealing with them, I’ve wanted to switch for quite a while.  Almost every month I’d come home and write another rant about what had gone wrong – but usually leave it in my draft folder.

Once I phoned on a Monday morning, spent ten minutes punching prescription numbers into the automated system, and expected things to be ready the following day.  There was certainly no reason that my refills shouldn’t have been ready, but none of my medicine was ready when I attempted to get my order on Thursday.  None of them!  The pharmacist was as puzzled as I was; the order was there, it just hadn’t been filled.  They were out of one of the meds, so the tech had decided not to fill anything (and not make sure the missing med was ordered, and not notify me, either).  I had to drive an extra fifty miles the following day to try again (after calling first).

The next month I phoned to verify that my meds were ready before making the drive to town.  I try not to bother them with phone calls because I know they’re busy, but they kinda brought it on themselves.  Good thing I called, too, because they were still waiting for the refill approval from my rheumy.  How enlightening, when I phoned the doctor’s office, to discover that the approval had been done a couple days earlier.  It wasn’t a case of the pharmacy’s word against the doctor’s office.  After faxing back to the pharmacy, the nurse followed their office policy and filed the fax confirmation in my chart (apparently some pharmacies have a reputation).  I’m sure (from reading pharmacy blogs) that sometimes the doctor’s office doesn’t get back to the pharmacy in a timely manner, but not this time.  The screw-up was entirely on the pharmacy’s end.

Then there was the time my husband agreed to save me the driving and stopped at the pharmacy for me when he was in town.  He’d gone to the pharmacy for me once before and they overcharged him, so I sent him a very clear list:

Image his surprise when the total rang up at $102!  They hadn’t run the Enbrel card (it seems to depend on which tech is working whether or not that gets done).  They fixed the Enbrel, but nothing else. Rather than figure out why it cost so much (since it had already taken too long), my husband paid $45 for something that should have cost $5. 

That is highway robbery.  My lowest drug co-pay is $10.  The only time a prescription costs me less than $10 is if the drug costs the pharmacy less than $10 and they can still turn a profit charging less.  According to the pharmacy, the insurance company, and the plan administrator, the pharmacy is still entitled to the full $10, but they have the option of passing the savings along to patients.  This means, unless I’ve completely lost my mind (and it’s not mtx day, so I don’t think so), that the pharmacy can make a profit by charging $5.10 for feldene, but they gouge an extra $40 out of people who don’t have insurance.

 If we ever lose our insurance, you can bet I’ll be shopping around for my meds based on price!

I learned later that it was one day too early for one of the refills – on the day I phoned, not the day it was picked it up!


Pick a pharmacy based on location.  Years ago, that’s what I did.  Unfortunately, the location was based on proximity to my doctor’s office, not my house.  Since we only had prescriptions to fill if we’d been sick enough to see the doctor, it made perfect sense to use a pharmacy near his office.  Now, however, when I go to the pharmacy more often than I go to the gas station, I need something closer.

I finally took the plunge.

There are four pharmacies in town.  One has a drive-up window, and I considered the convenience of calling to order my refills and not having to even go into the store to pick things up.  It was very tempting, but I suspect that I’m going to need a good relationship with my pharmacist and don’t see it happening at the drive-up.  Two of the pharmacies always have long lines of people waiting, and I think mistakes are more likely to happen when things are rushed. 

Only one pharmacy left to check.  It’s a good location.  As an added bonus, I’ve talked to two of the pharmacists there in the past and they’ve been extremely helpful.

Last week I took in new printed prescriptions and talked to the pharmacist on duty.  I told him that I really try to fill everything at the same time, but with two of the meds filling for 28 days, and the others for 30, things don’t always match up nicely.  He was terrific, looked at all the meds I’m taking without expressing shock, and took care of everything.  It was a bonus, when I went back the next day to get everything, to discover that he’d filled the mtx with 32 instead of 28!

I think I made a good choice.  Thanks, PC!

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