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Complaint

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CVS Pharmacy - Complaint
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CVS Pharmacy - Complaint - Image 2
I was Treated poorly by the pharmacy manager, and when I filed a complaint she later then said that the reason she treated me that way was because I was using vulgar language and rude, which is absolutely false, so she lied on me when I filed a complaint
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User's recommendation: Avoid the pharmacy

1 comment
Guest

Yeah, right. Just admit that you don't like being treated the way YOU treat everyone else.

Carmen S Plf

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| map-marker New York, New York

Due date on medication is when they place the order

To whom it may concern at CVS,

On my medication due date, which is on the 16th day of each month, CVS often doesn't place an order for my medication until it's too late. This results in me receiving my medication late.

To cope, I've had to take the last two weeks' medication, cut it in half, and mix it with a Tylenol pill until I receive my new medication. I usually receive my medication on the 24th of the month for pick up, even though the label still indicates the 16th as the due date. This makes it look like I'm picking up my medication late. CVS needs to pay attention to people's medication due dates and order our medication one week before the due date to ensure timely delivery.

I've complained numerous times and still undergo the same problem month after month. CVS, you NEED to do BETTER for your patients.

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Cons:
  • Not receiving medication on due date
crystalV M
map-marker Henderson, Nevada

CVS is horrible to employees

CVS will cut employee hours and expects 1 person to do the job of 3 people but then the company gets upset when their Triple S score goes down. The company only cares for themselves not the employees.

I worked there for 3 years never called out & always showed up to work on time. I decided to quit and gave the company a 1 month notice trying to give them enough time to find a replacement. Eight months later after quitting I received 2 old checks which should have been given to me. Both issue dates on the checks were written at later dates after leaving the company so I had no way of knowing I was receiving 2 more checks.

That just shows you how much the store managers are cleaning out the pay stubs and checks out of the safe. They could have at least given me a call to tell me I had checks I would have went and picked them up. I am still trying to get my 2 checks re-issued and have now learned it's all of CVS that sucks.

People working payroll and HR keep giving me the run around on my checks. I wouldn't recommend working for CVS they are absolutely horrible to their employees!

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314 comments
Guest

I just did, sorry guys, CVS like all big chains only cares about $$$,& surely don't care about the patients health or they'd hire enuf people to do what needs to be done!

Guest

I agree with you! I live real close to a CVS & since COVID& the small independent pharmacy that I was using because they always kept Controlled substances in stock, I wasn't profiled as a drug seeker & delivered free, closed due to losing their space in their bldg, right next to hospital, merged with CVS.

Now I can't get thru, wait on hold, then told my script won't be ready till tomorrow because he was there all alone& was 1.5 hours till close. But this happens all the time, I can't call them the day before to fill it 1st thing the next day when it's dated to fill. There's no way to tell them to fill a script on file other than to phone them. Not in their app, or online.

Only to ask for refills, not to fill a rx on hold till date **. You can't email them or text them to please fill my rx on file for V. And every time my husband picks up a script, even when there's 3 people there, they're all busy& the phones ringing away because no one is free to answer it? In this day of technology, when Drs can e order RXs to pharmacies, there should be a way to make the CVS app or website to have an option to tell, text or email to fill this RX on hold now.

It's ridiculous that a big chain can't have that done. The little independent pharmacy used a RX app from Google that I could leave messages about filling my RXs on hold, but CVS & Walgreens can't? Then they decide to make more money by giving vaccines, which takes staff away from filling scripts & answering phones. If they don't want to hire more people then go tech further&make an app or website that can message the pharmacy!

I feel bad that these people have to do the work of 2-3 ,but they can also be really rude. But probably been pressured all day to fill, answer phone, check suppliers etc.

CVS& Walgreens don't care about your health, just like the vaccines that give you blood clots&still can't protect you fr getting the new strain of COVID!! It's all about the $$$$

Guest

The employees are so rude at CVS!!! Who collects your money at drive up and then just turns and walks away??

No thank you Have a nice day…CVS pharmacy drive up treats customers like that!! Had it happen today! Plus one of my medicines is still not ready! It is crazy.

I then sat and watched the car behind me. They sat at the window 15 minutes until someone started to help them.

It is a VERY BAD PLACE!! Infuriating!!!

Guest
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-2093652

Glad you sat and had a stopwatch to time the car behind you. I bet you would have stroked out if you waited an extra 15 minutes.

Just go somewhere else. You don’t matter at all.

Guest

The employees are so rude at CVS!!! Who collects your money at drive up and then just turns and walks away??

No thank you Have a nice day…CVS pharmacy drive up treats customers like that!! Had it happen today! Plus one of my medicines is still not ready! It is crazy.

I then sat and watched the car behind me. They sat at the window 15 minutes until someone started to help them.

It is a VERY BAD PLACE!! Infuriating!!!

Abbey Lhz

I totally agree. I don't understand how they always get away with harassing, bullying their employees without any consequence's

Guest

Get rid of this already

Meisha Yec

CVS sucks for customers also. I shopped there for years, but now I'm going to Walgreens for all my pharmacy and other needs.

They are under staffed and extremely unfriendly and unsanitary. They expect you to enter yes or no on a screen otherwise you cannot buy anything there. They don't disinfect the stylus they want you to use.

So they place you at risk of death, just for some gimmick, I don't think it even makes them a profit. Their management must consist of very evil creatures, not of the Human Species.

Sherae Qjk
reply icon Replying to comment of Meisha Yec

It does I am sick every day working there.

Guest

yup.

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Zenith H Hdh

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The TRUTH

Pharmacists with the nations largest retail pharmacy chain felt dangerously burned out.

It was August 2020. The pandemic was in full swing, straining an already weary workforce hit by a decade of relentless budget cuts and rising demands.

One by one, the pharmacists dialed into a weekly conference call with their boss.

He could have empathized with them or addressed the reality of their pressure-cooker environment one that breeds medication errors and creates missed opportunities to prevent potentially deadly mistakes.

Instead, CVS District Leader Khalil Haidar turned up the heat. He harped on his Texas-and-Louisiana-based team to hit corporate quotas: Sell more store memberships. Push for more prescription pickups. Vaccinate more people.

He threatened discipline and staff cuts unless pharmacists convinced at least five customers that week to get a flu shot before flu season had even officially started.

If you get your goal, nobody will come after you," Haidar said on the call, one of several recorded and shared with USA TODAY. "And many patients, they are ignorant. They dont know what the flu is ... How are you going to convince them?

How can you persuade them? Thats your job as a pharmacist.

Pharmacists take an oath to hold patient safety in the highest regard when preparing and dispensing medication. But rising pressures inside the nations largest retail chains have forced pharmacists to choose between that oath and their job.

The situation was bad before the pandemic. COVID-19 made it worse.

It has only gone downhill since then. Frustrations boiled over this autumn in a series of high-profile walkouts that left a string of CVS and Walgreens pharmacies shuttered or short-staffed. Those actions might have caught consumers off guard. But inside the troubled industry, it was the clarion call of a beleaguered workforce pushed to the brink.

Corporations like CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart have consistently slashed pharmacy staffing levels while simultaneously saddling their frontline workers with a burgeoning list of additional duties.

Stores that a decade ago might have had two pharmacists and six pharmacy technicians filling an average of 500 prescriptions a day now may have half the staff and an even higher prescription volume plus an endless crush of vaccine appointments, rapid tests and patient consultation calls.

Every task is timed and measured against corporate goals that reward speed and profits.

Staff who do not fill prescriptions fast enough, answer the phones quickly enough or drum up enough vaccination business can face discipline, reassignment or termination.

Pharmacists said its nearly impossible to meet all the demands without cutting corners, and when corners get cut, patients can get hurt.

The publics health is in danger, said Oklahoma City pharmacist Bled Tanoe, who quit her job at Walgreens in August 2021 over what she considered unsafe staffing levels and an emphasis on hitting corporate targets. The incidents of error are multiplied by infinity.

Former Walgreens pharmacist Bled Tanoe of Oklahoma City launched a public campaign in 2021 around the hashtag #PizzaIsNotWorking to highlight the dangerous working conditions that gestures such as free pizza from corporate wont fix.

USA TODAY interviewed four dozen current and former retail pharmacists from different chains across the nation and spoke with industry leaders, patient advocates and patients harmed by pharmacy errors. Many pharmacists spoke to USA TODAY on the condition of anonymity to protect their jobs.

The media organization also reviewed more than 100 emails from chain pharmacists sharing their concerns; inspected internal emails, text messages, metric score sheets and coaching notes; and listened to more than five hours of recorded conference calls.

These interviews, audio recordings and documents along with dozens of pharmacist workplace surveys, task force studies and state board of pharmacy reports add up to a prescription for disaster.

I could cry as to whats happening in my profession, said Daniel A. Hussar, a professor and dean emeritus at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy, where he taught for 52 years before retiring in 2018 to focus on his family and his blog, The Pharmacist Activist.

Hussar lamented the transformation of a once-vaunted career into the equivalent of a fast-food job whose workers are pressured to upsell every customer and race through every order.

Mistakes in that environment are not only common, he said, theyre potentially fatal.

At corporations like CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, Rite Aid the huge pharmacies errors are a cost of doing business, Hussar said. I dont think the boards of pharmacy or the colleges of pharmacy or the professional associations are doing enough to address the issues.

For years, pharmacists have reported these problems to their state boards, complained to their professional organizations and warned the media. The New York Times wrote about how the dangerous workload imperils patient safety just before the pandemic hit U.S. shores.

Promises were made and broken documented by pharmacists themselves in state surveys that followed.

In California, 91% of chain pharmacists surveyed by the state Board of Pharmacy in 2021 said they lacked the staff needed to ensure adequate patient care.

More than half of pharmacists polled by the Kansas Board of Pharmacy in 2022 said they didnt feel they could perform their jobs safely; the biggest reasons cited were a lack of adequate staffing and employer-imposed metrics, like filling a specific number of prescriptions a day or providing service to customers within a set time.

Hundreds of pharmacists in Ohio responded to a 2020 callout from their state board about the toll of their workload on patient safety in a report made public in the next year.

I feel a mistake is breathing down my neck as I try to manage all the tasks that I am asked to perform, one wrote. Another said they had left the profession because the environment was set up for me to fail.

State regulatory bodies overseeing pharmacies have for years refused to intervene. Their role is mainly to protect consumers, not pharmacists, and they traditionally considered many of these complaints staffing, metrics, workload outside their purview. They were seen as business decisions, not consumer safety issues, said Karen Winslow, interim executive director of the Virginia Pharmacy Association.

Thats starting to change, but not without a fight.

Ohio proposed a series of rules this year aimed at improving pharmacy working conditions.

Among them: A ban on quotas and requirements for sufficient staffing. The rules are currently pending a vote amid overwhelming support from pharmacists and opposition from retail pharmacy chains, including Walgreens and CVS.

The Board should stay focused on the regulation of the practice of pharmacy rather than the business of pharmacy, wrote CVS Director of Regulatory Affairs John Long in opposing an early version of Ohios rules last year.

An excerpt from a Nov. 2, 2022, letter sent by CVS Health to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy opposing the board's proposed regulations on retail pharmacy working conditions.

Virginia passed emergency regulations in late September also banning production quotas and bolstering pharmacy staffing. Those rules are in effect until March 2025, giving the state time to develop and pass more permanent measures.

Enforcing these rules could prove challenging.

California, one of the first states to outlaw pharmacy production quotas and mandate minimum staffing, is coping with routine violations by retail pharmacies that then fail to provide records to inspectors seeking to verify complaints, state Board of Pharmacy minutes show.

Professional associations, meanwhile, have earned their members scorn for hosting workshops on resiliency rather than advocating for better working conditions. Many pharmacists told USA TODAY they feel like no one stands up for them.

That, too, is starting to change. In the wake of the CVS walkouts last month, the new head of the American Pharmacists Association, the industrys largest professional organization, flew to Kansas City to meet with the organizers and committed to more aggressive leadership on these issues.

The APhA has been focused on longer-term fixes, and what weve heard loud and clear is we need to focus on the acute problems, said Michael Hogue, the associations chief executive officer and executive vice president. Thats what were going to do.

USA TODAY reached out to CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Rite Aid for comment.

Representatives of CVS and Walgreens generally acknowledged the challenges their pharmacists have faced in recent years but denied allegations of dangerous working conditions.

They said goal-based metrics on measurable objectives such as quick prescription turnarounds, short telephone hold times and vaccination volumes are standard within the industry and meant to assess quality rather than penalize staff.

Excerpts from 2023 internal documents show how CVS assigns metrics to tasks and evaluates staff performance based on them. (UPPER LEFT) In other categories, like "Ready When Promised," "Carry Over" and "Call Wait Time," success is measured by how fast employees work. They earn points for filling prescriptions on time and leaving none in the queue overnight, for quickly answering the phones and not leaving patients on hold for long. (LOWER LEFT) Success in some categories, such as "Patient Care at Pickup," "Pharmacy Team Outreach" and "Vaccinations," is measured on the ability to influence patient behavior.

The more patients vaccinated or enrolled in programs, the more points employees earn toward performance ratings. (RIGHT) Scores feature in individual performance evaluations and also roll into an overall pharmacy score.

CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens and Walmart all emphasized their commitments to patient safety and described their various efforts to continually reduce error rates.

Patient safety is our highest priority, Amy Thibault, CVS Pharmacys lead director of external communications, told USA TODAY. Our more than 30,000 CVS pharmacists approach this responsibility with seriousness and dedication and we work hard to earn the trust of our pharmacy patients.

CVS, Walgreens and Walmart also said they have invested in new technologies to streamline services, increased wages to better recruit and retain staff, and rolled out new initiatives to support their teams and reduce their workloads.

The major chains now provide half-hour lunch breaks for staff. Many also recently announced reduced pharmacy hours at locations nationwide.

Walmart spokesman Tyler Thomason said reduced operating hours promote a better work/life balance.

But pharmacists told USA TODAY their workloads remain the same and that theyre pressured to work through lunch and stay late to finish everything. At locations where hours were cut, many pharmacists said, theyve seen their salaries decrease accordingly.

Ive given the company thousands and thousands of dollars in free labor, said a CVS pharmacist who was on Haidars team during the pandemic-era conference calls. Our bosses can log into the computer any time and tell how far behind we are. They will send group texts and say, I see youre trending behind.

What are your plans to finish it tonight? Very intimidating comments. You fear for your job all the time.

Haidar, who now leads a different team, told USA TODAY the recordings must have been altered and that he never threatened staff with discipline for falling short of vaccination goals. He also said they are not an accurate depiction of his leadership.

When asked if he would like to listen to the recordings, Haidar declined.

Michael DeAngelis, CVS executive director of corporate communications, said it is not the companys policy or practice to penalize pharmacy teams regarding the number of vaccinations they administer and that it is committed to compensating our colleagues appropriately for the hours they work.

DeAngelis also said CVS recently reduced its pharmacy metrics by 50%, but he declined to provide additional details.

Walgreens announced last year the complete elimination of performance-based metrics, the only major chain to have taken such a step. But interviews with pharmacists and documents provided to USA TODAY show the company continues to push staff to hit unrealistic goals.

One Walgreens pharmacist said she was reprimanded earlier this month for taking too long to verify prescriptions, even though her extra diligence had caught several serious mistakes.

Notes from a Walgreens coaching session say the average handle time (AHT) for data reviews (DR) should be 20 seconds or less and for clinical reviews (CR) it should be 8 seconds or less. Data reviews ensure all prescription information is correctly entered. Clinical reviews consider the appropriateness of the drug and dose and check a patient's existing medications and allergies for potential interactions.

According to notes from her coaching session, shared with USA TODAY, she should take less than 30 seconds to verify the accuracy and appropriateness of every prescription, in addition to checking for potential problems like drug allergies or interactions.

I pray every day that I dont miss something or cause a patient harm, said the Tennessee-based pharmacist, who estimates she handles several hundred prescriptions daily.

I feel guilty knowing that I would want someone to double check the math on a prescription of antibiotics for my child, but I dont have time to do that for their child.

Medication errors: A pharmacist's worst nightmare

Medication errors are a pharmacists worst nightmare. Many told USA TODAY they lie awake at night wondering if, in their haste, they made a mistake that might hurt or kill someone.

In May 2021, that someone was Brenden Fisher.

The Sarasota, Florida, child overdosed on a newly prescribed anti-seizure medication after the CVS pharmacy near his home dispensed the drug with the wrong instructions on the label.

Paris Bean and Jason Fisher with their son, Brenden. Now 4 years old, Brenden overdosed in 2021 on an anti-seizure drug incorrectly dispensed by a CVS pharmacy in Sarasota, Florida.

By the third dose, Brenden was lethargic, dazed and struggling to breathe. His parents, Paris Bean and Jason Fisher, rushed their then-2-year-old to the hospital, thinking he was dying.

Hospital staff didnt know what was wrong with him, Bean recalled, until a nurse asked if he was taking his 1.2 ml of levetiracetam twice daily.

When Bean told her the instructions said to give him 7.5 ml, you could almost hear her jaw drop, Bean recalled.

She said, Did you give that to him? And I said, Yes. Is that why were here? She said, I wouldnt be surprised.

Brenden still suffers from a full-body tic he first developed during the incident, his parents said.

Dozens of times a day, he will suddenly stop whatever he is doing, clasp his hands together, clench his jaw and tense every muscle in his body while staring off into space. Each episode lasts anywhere from 5-10 seconds.

His parents havent been able to definitively link the tic to the overdose, but they said they have no other explanation for it.

The label on Brenden Fisher's medication should have said to take 1.2 ml by mouth two times daily. Instead, a CVS pharmacy in Sarasota, Florida, printed a label that called for a dose more than six times higher than what was prescribed.

Anti-seizure medications like levetiracetam depress the central nervous system, Hussar said. Because nerves tell muscles when to contract and relax, he said, there could be a connection between the overdose and Brendens involuntary muscle contractions.

Bean said she blames CVS for the mistake but also herself: Im the one who physically administered it ...

I could have killed him.

CVS declined to comment on the error.

Bean and her husband filed a lawsuit against CVS in February that was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum. But they said they did not file a complaint with the Florida Board of Pharmacy.

That means its one of countless errors for which theres no official tally or public record.

Brenden Fisher, now 4, developed a tic after his overdose on anti-seizure medication in 2021. Dozens of times a day, he will suddenly freeze, clasp his hands together, clench his jaw and zone out for several seconds.

Despite a widespread industry belief that medication errors are on the rise as a result of unsafe working conditions, there is no reliable or comprehensive public data to prove it.

No federal agency requires pharmacists to report medication errors, and few state boards of pharmacy mandate it. Many pharmacies and pharmacy chains track errors internally but do not share the numbers with the public.

CVS and Walgreens both declined to share their data with USA TODAY.

There really is no way of knowing how many errors are actually out there, said Larry Selkow, a retired California pharmacist who recently served on the American Public Health Associations task force on pharmacy medication safety issues.

The group estimated U.S. pharmacies annually make 54 million dispensing errors, of which 2.3 million are potentially harmful. It recommended the establishment of a national pharmacy reporting system to collect data on errors and their underlying causes. Having such information, Selkow said, would allow pharmacies to adopt practices to prevent future mistakes.

Numerous pharmacists told USA TODAY that errors are not consistently reported even internally.

Small mistakes and those caught early are routinely hidden.

Some pharmacists dont report it especially if theyve already had, like, five errors that year," said Shane Jerominski, a California pharmacist who worked for both Walgreens and CVS. "For every error that gets found out, there will be an error that never gets caught."

Even when they do report potentially fatal errors, some pharmacists said, no one from their companies investigates how they occurred or makes changes to prevent them from repeating.

A former CVS pharmacy manager at a short-staffed, high-volume store in Georgia said he was horrified when one of his patients who was prescribed Bisoprolol for high blood pressure accidentally received a sleeping aid called Belsomra and got sick after she started taking it.

The pharmacist, who now works for Walmart, said he had hoped the error would be a wake-up call for higher-ups who might finally give his store adequate staffing. It didnt work out that way.

They had me do that little report, but my manager, nobody ever followed up, he said. They were like, OK, cool, see if she would like a gift card, and well handle it from here.

And that was it. Its like they could care less. Like it didnt even happen.

CVS did not comment on the incident, but Thibault said that the companys first priority when it learns of any error is the patients safety. She said it then takes steps to correct the error and learn from it.

Walgreens said in a statement that its mandatory for employees to report errors under the companys Continuous Quality Improvement Program.

We take any prescription error very seriously and have a multi-step prescription filling process with numerous safety checks to minimize the rare chance of human error, said Marty Maloney, Walgreens senior manager of media relations.

Pharmacists are personally liable for medication errors and risk fines, discipline and loss of license if investigated and found responsible by their state board. Many told USA TODAY they get little or no support from their company when mistakes happen, even if the conditions imposed by those companies contributed to the error.

The Nevada Board of Pharmacy in September fined and suspended the licenses of two CVS pharmacists who accidentally gave a pregnant woman the abortion drug misoprostol instead of the fertility treatment she was prescribed. The mistake, which was first reported by 8NewsNow in Las Vegas, ended the womans pregnancy.

The Nevada board also fined CVS $10,000 over the objections of company attorney William Stilling who argued CVS itself did nothing wrong.

The only allegation against CVS, Stilling said, is that they had these pharmacists.

Pharmacy benefit managers played role in the current crisis

Retail pharmacy wasnt always this bleak.

Twenty years ago the industry was thriving. CVS and Walgreens were opening new locations at a rapid clip.

New pharmacy schools popped up to meet the needs of a profession in high demand. Meanwhile, Americans appetite for prescription drugs was soaring.

Independent and chain pharmacies alike were earning relatively healthy profits from drug sales and could afford to hire and retain enough staff to keep their operations humming.

A constellation of factors contributed to the industrys downturn. They include rising drug costs, changing consumer habits and the emergence of online pharmacies.

Of the three largest pharmacy benefit managers, one is owned by CVS Health: CVS Caremark. The other two are ExpressScripts, owned by Cigna, and OptumRx, owned by the same company as UnitedHealthcare.

But none looms larger than the outsized influence of pharmacy benefit managers.

These third-party administrators of health insurers prescription drug programs have eroded the profits of retail pharmacies to the point where they now lose money on many sales.

In todays world, 7 out of 10 medicines dispensed by a pharmacy are dispensed at a loss, Hogue said, referring to the non-generic drugs that represent pharmacies largest expense.

Pharmacy benefit managers, commonly referred to as PBMs, act as a middleman between the insurers, the drug manufacturers and the pharmacies. They negotiate drug prices with manufacturers, determine which drugs will be covered by insurance plans and set reimbursement rates for pharmacies that buy and sell the drugs.

As the power of PBMs rose over the years, they demanded bigger rebates from drug manufacturers and pocketed increasingly bigger shares of those savings instead of passing them along. They also lowered pharmacy reimbursement rates and tacked on hefty fees known as Direct and Indirect Remuneration.

The three largest PBMs ExpressScripts, owned by Cigna; CVS Caremark, owned by CVS Health; and OptumRx, owned by the same company as UnitedHealthcare control a majority of the market.

While PBMs collective profits skyrocketed over the past decade, their tactics plunged retail pharmacies into financial distress and left them scrambling for alternative sources of revenue, like vaccinations, to stay afloat.

The Federal Trade Commission launched an inquiry last year into PBM practices, which have already been the subject of several lawsuits.

Independent pharmacies have been hit especially hard. Not only are their reimbursement rates lower than those of chains, but their patients have been steered away by PBMs that insist they use a preferred chain pharmacy instead.

Charles Thompson, a pharmacist and independent owner of Grove Park Pharmacy in Orangeburg, South Carolina, said he has lost countless customers who were told by their PBMs to use CVS and Walgreens instead.

Between that and the lower reimbursements, he said, Grove Park had to diversify to stay open. It now offers an in-store medical clinic, hospice services and medical equipment rentals.

If I had to rely only on filling prescriptions, Thompson said. I would be out of business.

Other independent pharmacies simply closed. The United States has lost more than 3,500 mom-and-pop pharmacies in the past decade, according to data from the National Community Pharmacists Association, which represents independent pharmacies.

The independents have been the canaries in the coal mine, said B.

Douglas Hoey, chief executive officer of the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Now the chains are following suit. CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid all recently announced the closure of hundreds of pharmacies as they face slumping revenues and the fallout from multiple lawsuits for their alleged roles in the nations opioid crisis. Rite Aid filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

Its all coming home to roost, Hoey said of the PBMs unchecked power and their practice of steering patients away from the independents and into the chains. It has overloaded the system, and also that corporate mentally of just, were going to work the workers to death, I think thats coming home to roost, too.

Pharmacists bleeding, crying, working alone

Like the metaphorical frog boiling in the pot, Wendy Lear said she didnt realize how bad her job at CVS had gotten until there were so few staff left that she was forced to work alone, even when she had no business being behind the pharmacy counter.

Lears stint with CVS started in 2009 when the chain bought the independent pharmacy where she worked in Lexington, Kentucky.

The transition was dramatic but initially tolerable, Lear said, because CVS retained enough pharmacists and technicians to meet the patients needs.

But that changed over the years as CVS whittled away its staff while heaping more work upon the few who remained.

Pharmacist Wendy Lear said she felt pressured to work alone in dangerous situations at CVS. She quit in 2021 and now works for an independent pharmacy in northern Virginia.

One time, Lear recalled, she went to work while miscarrying her first child because her boss couldnt find anyone to cover her overnight shift and begged her to go in. Bleeding, cramping and emotionally distraught, Lear said, she fielded phone calls and filled prescriptions until she had to lie down on the floor.

Another time when she was sick with norovirus and vomiting in a trash can behind the pharmacy counter, Lear said, she was asked to keep working until her boss could find someone to replace her. Lear toughed it out for two hours before texting her boss for an update.

Any word???

she wrote. I cant stay here. I am so sick. I am going to have to close.

Her boss texted back, instructing Lear to have the store manager take care of patients in her absence.

Thats illegal, Lear told USA TODAY of her boss request.

You have to have a pharmacist on premises to sell prescriptions. She was so frustrated I had to go home, and, its like, you have to have contingencies for when people fall ill during their shift.

A text exchange between then-CVS pharmacist Wendy Lear and her district manager at the time. When Lear said she was sick and needed to close the pharmacy, her manager told her to have the store manager (SM) take care of patients. But only licensed pharmacists can dispense prescriptions.

Eventually, Lear said, the demands of the job became too intense and the risk of errors too great especially during solo shifts that she quit CVS in 2021 and found a new job at an independent pharmacy, Remington Drug Co., in northern Virginia.

Answering phone calls, taking prescriptions at drop off, entering those prescriptions, verifying once, filling those prescriptions, verifying twice, running the register, giving vaccinations, making metric-monitored phone calls, all fell on one person, she said of her job at CVS.

In a double-check system, whos checking me? This is when patient safety is most compromised.

DeAngelis told USA TODAY it is not CVS policy or practice to require staff to work when they are ill.

But retail pharmacists from CVS and other chains across the country shared similar stories of corporate pressure and severe burnout:

All day long stuffs blowing up and management is yelling at us because we cant answer the phones fast enough and were not giving enough immunizations, said a current Walgreens pharmacist in Arizona. Ive seen pharmacists cry back in the pharmacy because its so busy.

This situation has slowly worsened, but the big turning point was when we started giving COVID shots, said a current Walmart pharmacist in Iowa. One day it was just me there, and I did 77 COVID shots.

There was not a single week where I didnt work 80 hours, but I was only paid 42, said a former CVS pharmacist from Virginia.

We were behind on prescriptions the entire year. I was begging, please can we get more hours? Instead, corporate would suggest we do these overnighters to get caught up.

Thousands of retail pharmacists left the industry during the first two years of the pandemic, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reported a 6% drop in employment numbers between 2019 and 2021.

Although those numbers have rebounded to pre-pandemic levels, the latest data shows, overall interest in the profession has nosedived, raising questions about the future of pharmacy.

American Pharmacists Association CEO and Executive Vice President Michael Hogue getting vaccinated earlier this month at a Walgreens in Kansas City, where he traveled to tour pharmacies and meet with CVS employees who had organized a walkout in late September.

Applications to U.S. pharmacy schools plummeted nearly 70% from their peak in the fall of 2009 to the fall of 2021, according to the most recent data published by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy.

Those schools, which graduated nearly 15,000 students a year at their peak, are expected to produce just 11,000 new pharmacists annually by 2025, Hogue said.

Stuart Beatty, dean of Ohio Northern Universitys Raabe College of Pharmacy, said his school is facing the same enrollment slump despite efforts to recruit students and reassure them of a bright future.

If he and his academic peers cant reverse the tide, he said, the nation soon could face a severe pharmacist shortage.

It makes sense. Why would you go into a doctoral degree when all this is happening? said Janan Sarwar, a Louisville-based pharmacist, publisher and career coach. They want to help patients.

They dont want to enter a profession that oppresses their ability to help and do good in the world.

Mistakes like this are why pharmacists say they're leaving

Shelby Richards blames chronic pharmacy understaffing for the medication error that cost her thousands of dollars.

The Memphis Walgreens she frequented was always busy, low staffed, lines out the door, Richards said, including the day in March 2021 when she retrieved a newly prescribed anti-anxiety medication to treat panic attacks after a car wreck.

Inside the bottle were two sizes of round, white pills. Richards said she assumed they were different doses of the same drug because her doctor had mentioned wanting to start her on 5 mg of Buspar before increasing it to 10 mg.

Shelby Richards and her husband, Taylor, look over the nearly $20,000 in medical bills they must pay after a medication error landed Shelby in the hospital.

So she started taking the smaller of the two pills, not realizing it was a different drug altogether a calcium channel blocker called amlodipine to treat high blood pressure.

Within days, Richards said, she began to feel nauseous, light-headed and her legs were swelling all common side effects of amlodipine. Uninsured, she racked up $15,000 in bills from three hospital visits as doctors tried in vain to determine the cause, records show.

It wasnt until her boyfriend took a closer look at her medication and noticed the different-sized pills that she had an answer.

I told her it should always be a separate bottle, said her now-husband Taylor Richards, who researched the two pills online and learned the one she had been taking was the highest dose of amlodipine available.

Inside Shelby Richards' medication bottle were two sizes of round, white pills. The larger pill was the medication Richards was prescribed an anti-anxiety drug called Buspar.

The smaller pill was a calcium channel blocker called amlodipine to treat high blood pressure and should not have been in the bottle.

The couple called Walgreens to report the error and said they were dismissed without an apology. They tried to sue but missed the state statute of limitations, so they filed a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Pharmacy, which they provided to USA TODAY.

It seems like their staff is working like slaves, Taylor Richards said. There are usually two people back there, and its probably one of the busiest pharmacies around. I imagine theyre requiring them to fill so many prescriptions that it will continue to cause these types of errors.

Walgreens declined to comment on the error.

Shelby and Taylor Richards, with their son Brody, are another American family who have been affected by a pharmaceutical error and are now burdened with medical debt.

Pharmacists, meanwhile, said its a prime example of how working conditions put patients at risk and why so many of them are quitting the profession altogether.

Its also why dozens of pharmacists recently walked out recently in protest.

Another walkout is planned for Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Pharmacists are calling it Pharmageddon.

The primary reason is our concern for public safety, said Corey Schneider, one of the CVS pharmacists who participated in the Kansas City walkout.

Its also about basic decency. Pharmacists shouldnt have to cry at work or go home worried that they made a mistake.

A few, like Tanoe, have funneled their frustration into advocacy. The former Walgreens pharmacist launched a public campaign in 2021 around the hashtag #PizzaIsNotWorking to highlight the dangerous working conditions that gestures such as free pizza from corporate wont fix.

Since then she has connected with thousands of retail pharmacy workers through her Facebook page, LinkedIn account and the online pharmacist advocacy community, RPhAlly, of which she is the vice president. She also helped organizers of the recent CVS and Walgreens walkouts share their messages and recruit participants and supporters.

Tanoe said its time the state pharmacy boards, professional organizations and corporate owners take these concerns seriously.

If not, she said, the nation will see fewer pharmacies, fewer pharmacists and more incidents of patient harm.

For so long we have been told our patients come first no matter what you do, your patient comes first, Tanoe said. Now, we are saying, no. We come first.

We hold our patients lives in our hands. If were not well, theyre not well.

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Resolved
Andrea F Xfw

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Silver Spring, Maryland

Resolved: I was over charged on my meds and pharmacist did not give me the rx discount...she lied

CVS Pharmacy - I was over charged on my meds and pharmacist did not give me the rx discount...she...
Updated by user May 05, 2024

Company fixed the issue and I have been provided with apology.

Original review Apr 04, 2024
I paid $202 for ear drops When it should have been $75 with the good rx discount I want a refund of $127 Im not happy Because the guy at the register didnt know what he was doing He didnt speak English and was having trouble finding my prescriptions The pharmacist did not give me my discount She lied to me ! I want my refund please ! My phone number is 240-306-**** My name is Andrea Friel
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Loss:
$127

Preferred solution: Price reduction

2 comments
Guest

How did they "overcharge" you without your knowledge ... did they not tell you the price before you handed over your payment?

Guest

Why did you give them $127 if you knew that was the wrong price?

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Bellarose Urw

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker New Orleans, Louisiana

VERY POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE CHALMETTE PARIS RD IN LOUISIANA

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Called to check on my husband's prescription, gave information, then the phone was put down where I could hear even the pills being counted or dispensed and other conversations. I kept saying hello, hello, but no one bothered. Finally, when someone did answer me, she was rude with no apology, and I asked why she just put the phone down. She could have asked me to call back, she said, 'I told you to hold on, you just didn't hear.' This is not the first bad experience there. I will not be going back, and I wonder what other mistakes are being made. It's a matter of life and death.
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User's recommendation: Be Aware

1 comment
Guest

Such a travesty!

Anonymous
map-marker Los Angeles, California

Customer service

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Today was the worst customer service experience I ever had at a CVS. I was shocked!

Theres never anyone standing behind checkout counters, but Ive never let that be an issue. Sure, its annoying when you cant find assistance and risk losing your place on the queue. Its routinely understaffed. But thats not even my issue today.

As usual, nobody was behind the counter, people were waiting, trying to ring the bell for service, nothing changed. So we waited and waited. And finally, a very visibly frazzled woman (manager) came up and brought a guy along. He began waiting on the customers whilst she attempted to, seemingly, be tending a register.

Every customer was gracious and patient, including myself. It is what it is. I dont get stressed about things like this. When it was my turn, I went to the resister where the manager was so I could let the person behind me go to the guy.

Before I could even say hello, she snapped at me I am busy trying to fix this I cant help you right now! And the guy said everyone just needs to slow down, as if wed all been acting as stressed as manager. He offered me no eye contact, no smile, and when I asked how to bypass putting in my pin, he looked at me as if I were an idiot and condescendingly told me what to press. Then, after his service, I said thank you, a habit I was taught since childhood, and he didnt even reply.

So I said it again, and he completely ignored me. And I was standing right in front of him. Definitely loud enough. After I purchased my nail polish, I went to Trader Joes, and the polish slipped from my hand and spilt all over the floor.

Of course, TJs attendant was beyond kind. I thought about going back into the store to get another, but I was so put off by my experience there that myself and other TJ employees began googling the nearest store where I could buy polish. Im on foot, and had my little dog and all my groceries (perishables) and walked 30 minutes out of my way rather than go next door! *That is how appallingly nasty the staff treated people.

Plus, the place was a mess! Very understocked, disorganised, and filthy.

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User's recommendation: Avoid the one in 3033 Huntington Drive in Pasadena, CA

1 comment
Guest

Wow, that is quite a tale! I am so curious why you would buy nail polish at CVS, and then bring it into Trader Joe's ...

not in a bag but "holding it in your hand." Seriously?

Not to mention you claim to have brought "a little dog" into both a pharmacy and a grocery store? What is wrong with you

Cynthia C Xcp

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker New York, New York

Good Luck If Your Rx Isn’t In Stock

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I have been on a medication for five years. Its the type of medication a person cant suddenly stop.

It has been two weeks since the pharmacist at a 24 hour CVS (that I was told would reliably have the medication since its next to a hospital in NYC) was supposed to order the medication, but it still isnt in stock.

No one can/will help me. CVSs main Customer Service is a waste of time, despite being told to call the pharmacy each morning to see if the order arrived, the pharmacy is rude, I have called every CVS in Manhattan and have been told they either dont have the Rx available or cannot tell me because of the type of medication it is, and I checked the FDAs website to see if there is a shortage or distribution problem and there isnt.

I dont know who is ultimately responsible, but I am contacting an attorney.

View full review
Loss:
$1200
Pros:
  • Lol
Cons:
  • All your worst fears with lies and apathy

Preferred solution: I would like my medication or for someone to tell me how to get it.

User's recommendation: ANYWHERE BUT CVS

1 comment
Guest

Just because the pharmacy is “near an nyc hospital” does not guarantee that it will have a medication in stock. Just because a pharmacist orders a medication does not guarantee when said medication will be shipped to the store. Did you bother to request that your script be transferred to a place that DOES have adequate supply, or just run to your keyboard to complain?

Angelo B Ftq

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Calgary, Alberta

The CVS in Clinton MD is RACIST and will try to put negative comments in the consumers profile if you talk back. I’m 70 and no African immigrant is going to chastise and no meter or sensor for glucose

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CVS Pharmacy - The CVS in Clinton MD is RACIST and will try to put negative comments in the...
YOUR SERVICE AND HOW YOUR AFRICAN NOT BLACK AMERICANS TALK TO THE CUSTOMERS. THE NASTY SERVICE THEY DO GIVE YOU. THE RESIDENTS OF CLINTON ARE TIRED OF THIS AND IF YOU LOOK AT THE REVIEWS ON THIS STORE THEY REFLECT THE DISSERVICE THEY PROVIDE TO THE COMMUNITY. THE PHARMACIST IS A RACIST AND THINKS SHE IS BETTER THAN THE CUSTOMERS SHE IS SERVING AND NASTY AS SHE CAN BE. THEN TRYS TO TELL YOU WHAT YOU CAN AND CAN NOT SAY AND YOU ARE A SENIOR. WE ARE TIRED OF YOU AND MY NEXT COMPLAINT IS TO BCBS AND MEDICARE TAKE OUR MONEY AND TREAT US AS IF WE ARE INFERIOR REALLY.
View full review
Cons:
  • Cvs still does not care about customers

Preferred solution: Apology

User's recommendation: Go To ANOTHER DRUG STORE NOT THIS ONE CVS IS A JOKE NOW

1 comment
Guest

LOL if you are going to write some diatribe on behalf of "the residents of Clinton," at least write something somewhat intelligible that makes at least an ounce of sense. All I see here are a slew of red flags related to your mental health.

patrick k Uqn

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Battlefield, Virginia

Lunch is more important

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I took my prescription to the CVS located at 10000 Patriot Hwy, Fredericksburg, VA. at 12:00 PM today, and they told me it would be ready in 45 Mins.

I came back at 1:20 and they told me it still was not ready and the pain medication was not in stock. The problem with this is I just got out of surgery and needed the Tylenol for pain.

Why did they not tell me this when I dropped it off, is beyond me. I told them I needed it right away because of the pain. They didn't seem to care and said that they were closing for lunch, and that I could come back after 2:00.

I said I couldn't wait, I'll go across the street to the other CVS and see if they had it in stock.

I went across the street and that CVS Pharmacy was closed too.

It would have been nice for them to tell me before I wasted my time.

Now still in PAIN, I am writing this.

I think the people at this location need sensitivity training.

And the *** people are just to "Suck it UP" because they don't have medication?

All would have been solved if they would have let me know this in advance. Lunch is more important.

View full review
Pros:
  • Drive threw
Cons:
  • Bad customer service

Preferred solution: Apology

User's recommendation: Don't exspect them to care

9 comments
Guest

You're right ... their lunch IS more important than filling a "prescription" for TYLENOL that you could have simply grabbed off the store shelf.

Guest

Another person who waits til after surgery to get their pain meds… PLAN BETTER

Guest

Buy your Tylenol off the store shelf like everyone else!

Guest

Are you aware that you can buy Tylenol without a prescription? Also, any pharmacy with just 1 pharmacist on duty always closes 30 minutes for lunch because the tech are NOT legally allowed to run a pharmacy without the pharmacist being there.

You are being unreasonable and I agree, very selfish.

Very right to Tylenol ends where their lunch period begins. Man, there are some entitled people in the world.

Guest
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-2495373

Not only that, but the whole chain of stores goes to lunch during the same half hour. They don’t even dare try 1:40 to 2:10 because of those with a stopwatch waiting.

Lamontae Pmf

It is not that lunch is more important. EVERY HUMAN BEING NEEDS TO EAT.

Stop being selfish. Don't you like your lunch breaks?

Guest

Why didn’t you ask for the prescription back at 1:20pm. If they were out of the medicine what was going to happen at 2:00pm after lunch?

Guest

Yes their lunch is important. The pharmacists and employees deserve that.

I understand you are not feeling well but that isn't their problem. If you had planned better you would have your scripts filled early.

Lamontae Pmf
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-2494925

The OP is selfish.

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chad antonio m

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker New York, New York

No access to store before posted closing time

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I drove all the from Brooklyn to Queens to get to this location as this store is one of the few locations that carries the product I was attempting to purchase. I arrived at 8:53pm, the manager was outside and explained that the store was closed and has been since 8:45pm like every other night.

I turned and said, I apologize I see online the store closes at 9:00pm and left.

If the store closes at 8:30pm each night, it would be nice if operating hours could reflect that, so we don't have other idiots showing showing up at 8:46pm to be told a similar crap.

Thus store has a one star rating on Yelp and a two star rating on Google so I know they do not care what we think of them. I also express my personal opinion of my experience on both platforms to help save another person.

View full review
Pros:
  • I get my products
Cons:
  • Definitely not the fastest

Preferred solution: Apology

User's recommendation: Try another location that closes after 8:45pm if you are running late

3 comments
Guest

There are 4 locations right in Brooklyn.

Guest
reply icon Replying to comment of Guest-2497209

Interesting! A significant hole in this dingus' story!

Rob S Emt

CVS REALLY EXPENSIVE!!!

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Marilyn J Twm
map-marker New Bedford, Massachusetts

Complaint regarding service

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The corporate so-called Customer Service is clueless about the total mixed msgs being given to customers via texts re: refills versus what the actual CVS pharmacy tells them. Its like theyre 2 separate companies.

And NO ONE can explain the policies both should share. The pharmacy person told me there were particular stipulations which were never told to me and then, explaining them on the phone, expected me to somehow intuit CVSs policies. Its crazy making.

Would never ever go there were it not that my insurance carrier, Aetna, makes CVS their only preferred pharmacy. And NOW I know the 2 companies are part of same corporation.

View full review
Pros:
  • Are everywhere
Cons:
  • Understaffed
  • Contradictions between store & texts
  • Hopeless communication

Preferred solution: A simple, single, consistent explanation of their policies for customers.

User's recommendation: Stay away from CVS!!!

1 comment
Guest

What was the issue?

Loma Xjf

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Boston, Massachusetts

No Way to Contact

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I tried to speak with someone..anyone today and there was no way to get past the AI phone menu. You can't ask it to speak to a representative, agent, counter, pharmacist or even a Human. Pushing "O" does nothing, just keeps going on and on about everything I don't care about. They want your money but don't want to talk to you. No way to run a business that DEPENDS on interacting with a customer.
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User's recommendation: If a business doesn't want to talk to you or makes it hard (send a letter) for you to talk to them, shop elsewhere.

1 comment
Guest

Why don't you try FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS rather than trying to outsmart the automated system by randomly pressing buttons...

Whitley Rfd

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Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Akron, Ohio

WORST Customer Service

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My husband had surgery and needed his pain medicine filled and the doctor informed me that he needed to take it within 2 hours of surgery to control the pain. I dropped off at 2pm and they told me about 1-2 hours.

I said that was cutting it close but I would be back in 2 hours exactly. Came back, they told me 1 more hour, came back again and still not ready and would be 1-2 more hours. I did not get it until 7pm- 5 HOURS LATER. By that time, my husband was in SO much pain.

I understand if they were busy but TELL ME. Don't set false expectations as I could have taken it somewhere else if I had known. When I tried to explain my situation, the pharmacist was so disrespectful. All she said was " 10 people ahead of you, nothing I can do".

Then proceeded to roll her eyes and talk about me to the young lady next to her.

Meanwhile, I was standing there with tears in my eyes because my husband was at home in excruciating pain! This was the CVS on Fairfield around 7pm on 3/14/2024.

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User's recommendation: NEVER will go there again

2 comments
Guest

Why didn't you ask for the script back and go elsewhere? The longest I've ever waited for a drop off script is 30 minutes.

Guest

Why did you wait until AFTER surgery to get the pain medication filled? Most people undergoing surgery will take care of that AHEAD of time. The fact you procrastinated and were unprepared is not the fault of the pharmacy

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Liliya P Dia

Pharmacy Employee

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My mom has 3rd stage cancer. She came in her CVS on 10th Ave and 23rd St she used to go in years. She needed to return an ointment. Pharmacy employee Mike was extremely rude to her and made her cry. I called to speak to the manager Mohammed who assured me Mike will give my mother a call to apologize but no one did
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Preferred solution: Apology

1 comment
Guest

Made her cry? Lol ok

Mark G Yxy

This review is from a real person who provided valid contact information and hasn't been caught misusing, spamming or abusing our website. Check our FAQ

Verified Reviewer
| map-marker Tarpon Springs, Florida

Did not have my prescription today as represented

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My prescription wasnt available today as it is every month without exception. Im out of medication that is very painful and certainly known to the managing pharmacist Matt.

I have been a CVS client since or prior to 1998. It was clearly represented to me that the prescription for 8mg of H Xs would be ready late morning or 240 Xs 4mg H when 8mgs arent available. The general perception among my family and peers is that the personnel at many of your locations has gone from bad to very bad. Too many pharmacists are leaving the rotations are hurting base long term clients.

I expect someone from your corporate offices to return the unanswered calls another step backwards especially in serving your current customers. Mark 727-278-****

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2 comments
Guest

So let me get this straight ... you have been a customer since 1998, and today is the FIRST time they do not have your controlled substance in stock.

So rather than WAIT for it to arrive, just like any other human being would, you rush to social media to post a complaint against the company? Aside from your addiction, what is wrong with you!!!!

Guest

They can’t just dispense a different strength of Xanax unless your doctor authorizes it by writing a new script! Which he may choose NOT to do!

So maybe you should be complaining to your doctor for the delay.

The pharmacy has no control on medication shortages and manufacturer issues, especially with all the drug abusers out there. And yes, anyone who takes that much Xanax is an abuser!

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Virginia M Bcc

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Verified Reviewer

I bought a brace and had to wait go see dr it was the wrong one they told me I could bring it back anytime long as I had my receipt but it was 3 weeks I had to walk to take it back got there the compu

Computer wouldnt let them give my money she call supervisor and she said it want let them I am on a fix income this isnt right have me a card to spend but I cant afford your prices so what am I suppose to do with it
View full review
Loss:
$45

Preferred solution: Full refund

1 comment
Guest

Why would you buy a brace BEFORE seeing your doctor to know what kind you need? No reputable physician is going to tell you to go to a local drug store to buy a brace.