The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Quieter, not Quitter.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:12 pm on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I started this blog in Feb of 2008, which means in Feb of 2012, I will have been writing for 4 years.  Wow.  When I started this thing, I did so as a way to relieve stress and VENT.  Mr Chick was a great soundboard for the difficulties in my day, but I didn’t marry him to for that and he deserves WAY better.  My hope in writing was to throw out my thoughts to the 4 winds of the internet in hopes that just maybe, a few people may read it.  Perhaps I may make a virtual “friend” who shares some of my frustrations/joys/experiences in the world of retail pharmacy.

I wrote about what I knew:  working as a woman in a retail pharmacy in the United States.  I make no claim to anything else. I am not particularly politically minded so I don’t tend to write about the “issues” surrounding pharmacy unless I knew them intimately.  I also make no claims about being an expert in writing.  I have no doubt I had tons of misspellings, capitals where they shouldn’t be and punctuation all in the wrong places.  I just don’t care about those things all that much.  I had a point to get across and that was my intent. Tense, punctuation, verbiage, etc…whatever…really didn’t matter. So, if I spelled QUEUE , as QUE,  ( as one reader pointed out).  Sorry about that, but thanks for pointing it out. I did correct it.

When I started writing I really only wanted to achieve two things in my posts:  interesting…and/or  relevant.  I have always had an interest in creative writing but writing for only the sake of writing seemed a waste of time. Thats why I launched a blog.  Maybe….just maybe somebody would find it.

I kinda figured that if anybody found my blog it would most likely be people who are ALSO pharmacists.  Surprisingly,  that turned out to NOT be the case.  Based on comments over the years, it seems to be mostly average Janes and Joes out there.  In fact, I was incredulous to learn that since March of 2o11, I have had 109,600+ visits to this page.  That was when I finally installed a site meter.  I was just curious.  I know there are a lot of RE-visits to this sites by regular readers, but I was amazed at the overall number.  I’d love to know how I was found by all these people. I was also shocked to find I have readers all over the planet, not just the US.

Some people I have found relate to and understand nearly everything I post.  Others seems to take exception to nearly everything I write.  To THEM I have never understood why they keep reading. Its like going to a restaurant you hate over and over and expecting a different result.  The real nasty comments I never posted for public viewing.  Anonymity allows for some awful things to be said on the internet and I wasn’t going to perpetuate that slime. I really learned about the hot buttons: subjects that got lots of comments.  No.1 hot button: People on pain meds. If I wrote a negative post about a drug seeker, comments came out of the woodwork condemning me for my lack of compassion.  Read my post:  drug seeker does not equal legitimate pain sufferer… Never has…never will..moving on…………

The profession of pharmacy is rather mundane.  I am not going to sugar coat it.  I highly doubt that any network would make a reality series about retail pharmacy.  Most of the time ( if it was accurately portrayed) pharmacy is a real snoozer in a pressure cooker.  Ya stand on your feet for hours at a time, filling prescriptions, checking prescriptions, deciphering scribble aka ” the prescription”, checking drug interactions, managing allergies,  answering questions, talking to drs/nurses/med assistants/ etc, answering phones, and dealing with patients/customers who have no idea what goes on behind the scene. …..” ya’ll just put pills into bottles, right?” I mean really, the last time you really saw a pharmacist on TV was what?  THE SIMPSONS…Good old Ned Flanders, who eventually quit Pharmacy to open a business for left handed people.  Its a stressful, busy, environment..but its rarely newsworthy until somebody screws up and kills someone.

If I wrote about the mundanity of pharmacy ( which I doubt is a real word),  then my site meter would probably have stopped moving at 109 instead of 109,000. I am sure that a thousand posts about Mrs Jones who called in her prescription for lisinopril  a day in advance, then picked it up without incident wouldn’t be very read-worthy. Therefore……

I wrote about absurdity, the hilarity, the weirdness, the emotional, and the abnormal-ness that occasionally blesses ( or curses) our department.

To some readers, that made me come across as a people hating sarcastic a$$hole who should hang up the white coat and die.   Those readers fail to understand my reason to write….to vent at the frustrations.  to those people:  YOU ARE WRONG.

Joe Q Public is a difficult customer.  He doesn’t care about the person ahead of him except that he wants him out of the way.  He doesn’t care about the person behind him because, well, he is BEHIND him and JQP was here FIRST.  He doesn’t care about the lady in the wait room with the sniveling kid other than the fact the crying irritates him while he is in line.   EVERYBODY is JQP to some degree.  I however choose to care about them all.  I care if the line is long because long lines suck.  I care when something isn’ t ready on time because JQP has to wait longer.  I care if I am out of short on something because JQP  has to make an extra trip.  I care that Mrs JQP’s kid is sick because he will make her life miserable until he feels better. I care if the doctor hasn’t called in a prescription for JQP because I would prefer to have it ready.  I care about all this stuff because its my job. I care to spend 2 hours after I close finishing up the days work not only because its the nice thing to do, but  50 customer’s rx’s will be done instead of NOT DONE.  I care enough to deliver prescriptions to a few people whose own family don’t want to make the trip to pick up their things…and when they do, piss and moan about it. ( one nearly blanched when she was grousing about having to pick up meds for her son. I said ” thats fine,you can leave, I’ll bring it to him, I usually do.” She had no idea I had been delivering to him for over a year. I haven’t seen her since. I guess she abdicated the job to me)

But I dont live in a Prozac induced state of euphoria either.  Its a tough job, so writing allowed me to decompress from that pressure.

But, 4 years into it ( and one long blog post later) I am running out of ideas.  Writing me-too posts over and over will get old and cease to be interesting and relevant.  If the only thing I want to write about is drug-seekers,  too-stupid-to-believe customers,  and insurance hassles, I could do that forever, but even that gets old.  Everybody must run out ideas.  TAP is virtually gone, and TAestP has pretty much left the building too.  Ole Apothecary quit his blog and most of the writers who were prolific when I started have either abandoned their blogs or rarely write.  Some have stepped up in their absence.  RedHeaded Pharmacist is my favorite, writing interesting and relevant posts both about retail pharmacy and the profession in general.

So, I am slowing down a bit.  Instead of writing 7-20 posts a month, I’ll write one when I feel something is particularly interesting/ funny/or out of this world. I hope to keep a pace of 3-4 per month. Maybe  the new year will bring more and interesting ideas.  Maybe you have your own.

I appreciate your readership. I’m not going anywhere. Lets just say PC is moving to part-time…always a lofty goal for the overworked..right?

Peace!

Nine pm and beyond.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:04 am on Wednesday, November 30, 2011

One of my pharmacy friends works for a different company.  We get together occasionally and despite our similar professions we rarely talk shop.  Over lunch this time however we chatted about their recent conversion to a new computer software ( a company I will not disclose).  She was frustrated beyond measure.  What they got was a complicated system that slowed the process down.  She has been at it for about 5 months now.  ” everything in the filling process takes longer.  We used to breeze thru 400 on a monday with time left over but now we are still printing labels at closing”.

That reality came to me 2 weeks ago when we got a software update on our own system that went horribly awry.  It had been rolling thru the company over a period of weeks so we knew it was coming, but something went bad over that weekend.  I came to work on that saturday morning to the  bulletin that  the update had been done, but it took an abnormally long time to boot up.  Then the logins hung for nearly a minute…then the screens advanced from one to another like it was an old 386.  I thought perhaps we needed a complete system reboot so I turned EVERYTHING off and rebooted from OFF.  Same result.  As I began to fill rx, it became painfully aware to me that something was wrong.  What used to be enter.enter.enter.print, was now enter…………………………………enter…………………………….enter………………………….print……………………………………………….and 25 seconds was passing between “print” and when the printer actually engaged.  Repeat this over 300 times and you can see…Houston, we have a problem.

I started getting calls from other stores:  “PC are your computers working?”    Other things had failed also.  We had no drug monographs printing on the label..you know, the information we are required to provide to each patient??  GONE.  and to go in and reprint them was slower than the filling process and to complicate things, half the time you hit PRINT, nothing happened.  Also gone were some other key features on the label.

I figured it would be a day or two before it was fixed.  I called our IT guy  ” Yea I know something happened..they are working on it”Its been 3 weeks.

Customers came in all day wanting rx’s that I hadn’t even generated labels for..I couldn’t print them fast enough.. It was tough.  They didn’t get it. I was looking at the queue growing  35, 50, 75…going in faster than my computer could spit them out.  And that has what its been like ever since.  Im getting good at explaining to customers that my computer reverted back to something like the brick cell phone!

The other roll outs went fine.  Why am I still waiting 3 weeks for our fix?  Monday we did close to 300 rx. Normally its a breeze average day..  I did the math.  It took 25 seconds for each label to print ( not including the extra time to print monographs or move between the screens.) for the 300 we did that is an extra 125 minutes of computer work it took just to generate labels.  And ,we learned quickly that moving between windows to hasten the process only slowed it down.  Which explained WHY at 9 pm when we were to close, I still had 50 prescriptions to count.  My pharmacist ( who left earlier) said ” just leave me whatever, I’ll take care of it tomorrow.

NO WAY.  Thats not how we do it.  We were there til 10:45 and left her a clean pharmacy.  Tech Extraordinare could have left but she stayed.  Nothing was required of her.

I sure hope they fix this soon. I feel like I am trying to run under water….

Now who is unreasonable?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:52 am on Monday, November 28, 2011

“Inventory Management”.  If you have ever worked for a company where a product is sold,  managing inventory, especially one that deteriorates over time, is a paramount issue.  I just recently compiled and returned my quarterly inventory and even wrote about it in a post called Reverse Distribution.  All in all, I returned approximately $5300.00 in outdated drugs, of which I will probably get about 20-30% credit ( if that).  You can see that managing inventory ( reducing how much I have over all and what I have to return) can be a big deal in the corporate office.  Multiply that by thousands of stores and you have  serious dollars evaporating.

This year they have been pitbulls ( and I dont mean to offend pitbulls) about inventory.  In THEIR perfect world, we would stock NOTHING, and order EVERYTHING overnight for the previous days prescriptions, and repeat the procedure daily.  I feel comfortable with about 240k in inventory…they want me to have no more than 193k.  That 47k disparity causes a lot of grief.  Nevertheless we have to play THIER game so I do my best to get inventory down.

I think its important to keep certain drugs in stock.  We cannot operate if we can’t fill certain kinds of rx’s on demand.  That being said,  we do not have to stock everything…all the time.

Ms Penny Wise transferred her files from Big Box a couple of months ago.  She had moved.  Before we actually transferred a thing, I knew she would be trouble.  she clutched her bottles like they were a state secret or something and interviewed me like I was applying for a job…with HER.  What are my hours…do we have emergency services…do I deliver…do I have a return policy ( seriously?? NO..)…who is my wholesaler…. do I bill loyalty cards….and on and on.  At some point I no longer cared if we got her business.  When she finally forked over her bottles, I noticed she had a pile of expensive acne stuff for her 2 kids.  She asked me  ” do you carry this?”  I knew where this conversation was going.  I told her that we can get all of it, but we do not just stock it…we order it when we get a prescription for it.  She let out some kind of *tsk* and said that if she were to transfer here, she wanted a GUARANTEE that we would stock these items. She said…” I believe its a reasonable request”

I really didn’t have much to lose, she wasn’t my customer yet. so I told her  ” not to be disrespectful to your needs, but you have a pile of drugs  that total thousands of dollars right here.  We get deliveries 5 days each week,  we are unable to have these kinds of dollars sitting here idle for 29 days each month.  Provided you do NOT order them on a Friday/Saturday, we can get them overnight.”  I even pulled the “poor economy” card and told her that the company is managing its dollars very carefully just like she probably is in her household.

I request that all of my high dollar customers call me a day or two in advance.  I let them know ahead of time so we are all on the same page.  I even have stickers that state ” SPECIAL ORDER ITEM ORDER AHEAD OF TIME”   They all get used to it.

She will too.  She decided to hand me the bottles and boxes and I transferred all of the rx’s from BB.  She didn’t need them yet..” Ill call you when we need them”.  60 days later she still hasn’t ordered anything.

And THAT end justified the means.

Happy Thanksgiving

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:17 pm on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Officially, this is my 25th Thanksgiving as a wife, and my 25th Thanksgiving as a pharmacist.

Its my 48th as a human being, and my 15th at my current pharmacy.

One of my favorite songs in White Christmas is the song Count Your Blessings.  Everybody had blessings, even those in the most dire of circumstances can probably dig deep and find something to be thankful for. Here are some of mine ( in no order other than how they came out of my head)

1.  Mr Chick.  I guess he SHOULD be near the top. He is my life inspiration and my best friend, so without going into boring details, I am grateful for my companion.

2.  My mother.  If you have read me for any amount of time, you know that she died of brain cancer in 1998.   Everything good that I am or hope to be is because of her influence.  My flaws are my own fault and I will give her no blame.

3. my friends.  I have such a strong circle of friends that I have come to love.  For a loner, this is amazing.  Any one of them would drop what they are doing if I had a need  and Visa Versa.

4. My job…yea the one that I fuss about in this blog.  No, its not an easy job.  I would like to walk away from it several times a week and never turn back, but its my chosen career, it pays well,  and I do my best to serve those who come to Pharmacy Chick Pharmacy.  I can’t please them all, but at the end of the day, I know that I   haven’t left anything on the table. Some of you LOVE my posts, some of you “notsomuch”.  I am not perfect…never professed to being perfect.  You can disagree with my feelings about certain subjects, but I write as it pours out of me, partly to entertain YOU and partly as a cathartic for my soul.

5. My country.  I live in the USA.  Proudly tho, thank you very much.  Its not perfect and we tend to meddle in affairs we shouldn’t, but just because I dont agree with the doings of Washington DC, doesn’t mean I dislike my country.  One of the most conflicting truths about living here is that you are FREE TO TELL EVERYBODY YOU WANT HOW MUCH YOU HATE IT..  Try that in a lot of other countries.   Freedom isn’t free.  I don’t take that for granted, but as I see certain freedoms whittled away with each passing year, I fear for my country and what I will lose next.  Since I have travelled far and wide,  I have seen the poorest of the poor and the richest of the rich,  I am quite content to be where I am . I have “enough”.  We should all have the gift of  ” enough”.

6. My health.  So far, I have managed to get thru my 48.2 years with all my limbs intact, and I dont live on narcotics….or Ineedzapam.  I fuss with Chronic tendonitis in my arms ( which ache 24-7) and GERD, but I manage quite well for the most part. It may not always be that way.  Tomorrow has its own problems.  I will enjoy today.

7. My spirit.  Suffering from unexplainable depression for so long, its a blessing to have a healthy spirit.  Its hard to explain to the NON-depressed how things can be objectively so good, but emotionally I want to die.  I am in a better place now.  I am very grateful for that. ( and no anti-depressants either anymore)

8. My bosses.  I have 3.  I am thankful for 2 of them .  Approachable and friendly, They are the best of the best.  I am the luckiest pharmacist in the chain to have the store manager that I have.  He is supportive and caring…and never meddles in the things he shouldn’t.  He lets me be a pharmacist and in respectful return, I try to never give him a reason to have to be concerned.  Its worked for over 15 years.

9, My readers.  Some of you I have fostered ” virtual” friendships thru email.  You are awesome.

10, and last but never least…MY LORD, enough said.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

PC

Festival of the last minute.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 6:48 pm on Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Excuse me while I screw this lid on my personal stash of Valium…( not really)

There is just nothing like the day before a holiday.  Pharmacy chick hates crowds, and for the most part, can successfully avoid them thru careful planning.  I cannot avoid the crowds that hit the pharmacy the days before a holiday….and everybody wants something….from ME.

I speak this universal truth.  If there are 10 of you all wanting something from me at the same time,  There WILL be a #1 and there will be a #10.  Sorry, it just cannot be done in any other way.  I have one set of eyes and ears and they never work independently.   I will queue each and everybody in a fair and orderly  manner, more or less in the general order that I got the work.  Sometimes all Hell breaks loose simultaneously.  Whether of not you believe it, I do have some method to the madness in the pharmacy.  I am an amazing score keeper in this ever-greying head of mine. Her is My take on some of the activities of today:

1.  If you are bloody, broken, or in excruciating pain from an injury you just sustained,  you are #1.  Make your self as comfortable as you possibly can and understand that I got you out of here as soon as I could.  If it took 30 min, its because I had no choice.

2.  If you  have ordered your Oracea and want me to call the loyalty card people because you are SURE it supposed to work (and its not). You are #10….or even 20.  Hardly a blip on my radar.  I just did a print screen and will put you in the ” do it when I have time ” pile.  Yea, I know it reaaaaaly sucks that you want it before the weekend, but I have to move on to some more pressing matters, like the lady next to you with the screaming kid who is waiting for Augmentin.

3.  There is no such thing as a simvastatin emergency.

4.  Rx transfers are also low on my radar.  as nice as I can muster, I will say  ” unless you will perish before Friday, we will do this transfer late this evening or after TG day.” Which begs the question: You knew you were travelling.  why do you bring ME an empty bottle of #30 Exforge  from Virginia, dated 10-12-2011? A. you should have been out of this 10 days ago…and B. I dont have it anyway.

5.  Pharmacy is like a huge funnel.  You can stick a ton of stuff ALL AT ONCE in the top, but it will always come out the bottom at the same rate…

6.  No, I cannot fill your Vicodin 2 weeks early for Thanksgiving…its a ONE DAY holiday…at the most, 4 days for those hitting the road…NOT 14.

7. it is always better if you will give the the Reader’s Digest Condensed Version of everything today.  Long stories,  your golf game….MY golf game…all that stuff I normally LOVE to hear…cant hear today.  Its 100% business today, and forgive me… I really can’t sit and listen to you tell me all about ( another) testosterone Gel you are repping today.

8.  I highly doubt I am going to get a PA from  an out of state Physician on Singulair..today.  No, I am not kidding.

9.  I am not sure that requesting this clonazepam refill at 4pm the day before thanksgiving is going to be oked. Yes, I know your Dr is awesome, but since his office closed at 3:30 today,  I have this sinking feeling you will be waiting til monday.

10.  The words I started to hate the most:  ” I know you are really busy, BUT…”  Ok, so stop right there then.

I felt like a ping pong ball today,  bouncing from one end of the pharmacy to the other, getting a little bit more beaten up as the day progressed. If not the drop off window, it was the pick up window, or the phone, or somebody poking their head over the counter, or an override that had to be done, or a script that just had to be checked because he/she is at the window to pick up (me: but you said you will be here friday?.”. He: I changed my mind”).  What I really am is a conductor of an orchestra with no instruments, attempting to keep this organized chaos of a pharmacy performing  a difficult masterpiece.

The few, trying to please the many.

Mean People Suck.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:31 pm on Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I really do not know why they call the holidays the “season of Goodwill”.  People are anxious, grouchy, and alltogether a bunch of pissheads, and its starting earlier than usual.  Generally its AFTER Thanksgiving. The day started out so well, but it didn’t stay that way.

Case in Point:

This guy calls up at 3 pm today, and says he wants to transfer a RX from another pharmacy.  I get his name and DOB, and then he tells me the rx is for his SON, so I ask for the son’s name and DOB. I hear a tsk in the back ground. ( am I supposed to read his mind?)  I get the pharmacy name, the drug he wants me to transfer, yada yada.  Apparently its some antibiotic that my competitor is out of.  He asks me when it will be ready.  I tell him ” I should have this done in 2 hours”. He tells me he wants it in a half hour. I tell him that I am sorry but at this present time that 2 hours is a realistic time frame due to the current workload, but I will do it as soon as I possibly can and call him when its done.  I had 10 rx actually waiting to be filled for people in the store, more to check for waiting clients, and…2 people sitting in the wait room for vaccinations, and this joker wants me to do a transfer and a fill in 30 minutes.  Funny, I thought the earth revolved around the  sun, not you.

So he closes out with this comment.  ” I dont appreciate this mediocre service, just cancel it”.  MEDIOCRE…

Thank you much for calling.  ( not really)

Shipping and Handling….

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 1:14 am on Saturday, November 19, 2011

With no relation to the previous post,  Mr Chick and I are up late tonight watching TV, a rarity for the “early to bed” type that we are.   We caught an ad  on the telly offering an item ” completely free! “.  It promised no strings attached.

I like free, but know better.  Free is rarely free.  Reading the small print I noticed that my FREE item was subject to nearly 30.00 in shipping and handling charges.  Being very familiar with shipping charges, I know that “handling” is taking up the majority of this particular dollar amount.  So much for “free”.

Likewise, late night TV has lots of brief info-mericals that offer the 30 in one tool, salad dicer and nose hair trimmer for the amazing price of 29.99. AND if you act right now, you can get another one FREE..( just pay another shipping and handling, which happens to be nearly as much as the item itself.)

What took the cake was an item I wanted to purchase online.  You see, nearly every pharmacy has a scotch tape dispenser.  I have the ever popular C22 Scotch tape dispenser, in Boring Beige ( I think that is an official color). It has this flesh tearing blade on its end that over the last 15 years isn’t tearing flesh ( or tape) as well as it should.  I decided to order replacement blades.  They are about 3 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.   They weigh nothing and you could probably tape a dozen or more to a sheet of paper and stick it in a first class envelope and mail it for 44cents.  Most likely, however,they come shrink wrapped to a small piece of cardboard.  After collecting all kinds of info, the site finally revealed its shipping charges.  My 3 blades were just under 13 bucks.  The shipping ( and handling) was over $14.

Seriously?   With a straight face??

Handle this….no thank you. Unless my blades are being transported to its packaging by a uniformed Concierge named Pierre and wrapped in gold lame’ and flying business class, I cannot see paying MORE in S&H and I pay for the item.

I gave Ebay the heave-ho for the same reason..It became all the rage to soak auction buyers with exhorbitant shipping charges.

Some things I am forced to pay.  Im hosed on baggage when I fly.  I now stuff my clothes in plastic bags and stuff them in my golf bag. If I get 50 lbs..I use 49 of them.

I’ll find my blades..elsewhere.

Not even when its free?

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:50 pm on Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I found it interesting when I was reading the paper yesterday and buried in the middle was the results of a study done ( by Aetna) that wanted to see if patient compliance would improve if drugs were  offered to the patients FREE.

Two groups were compared, one that had their drugs provided free of charge and the second,which had a copay.  One might think that it would be a slam dunk conclusion: Free drugs would drastically improve compliance.

If you think that, you would be wrong.

http://online.wsj.com/article/APf4499fb7e9cf4b26b1ac16d5ee2a876a.html

Apparently even Free isn’t a good enough price.  Copied from the original article:

The study enrolled 5,855 Aetna members who had a drug plan as part of their benefits and were going home from the hospital after a heart attack. They were 53 years old on average, and three-fourths were men.

The researchers had hoped to recruit 7,500 patients but scaled back when so few signed on.

Preventive medicines were offered free to 2,845 patients and prescribed with the usual copayments for the rest. Copays for these drugs run around $50 a month.

Roughly a year later, the share of patients who filled their prescriptions ranged from 36 percent to 49 percent in the copay group, depending on the drug, and was only 4 to 6 percentage points higher in the group that had no copays.

Providing these medicines for free had a “distressingly modest” effect on patients’ willingness to take them, Dr. Lee Goldman of Columbia University and Dr. Arnold Epstein of the Harvard School of Public Health wrote in an editorial in the medical journal.

Comments?? Tell me what you think about this study, and why you think it turned out the way it did!

Occupy THIS

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:14 pm on Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pharmacy Chick isn’t the most political of people in the world but she does have an opinion.  I don’t tend to share my opinions unless asked and Ill never shove it down anybody elses throat.  In the wake of  Occupy ” everything”, I did want to share this:

Dear Occupiers..Or 99%, whatever you wish to be called.  I wanted to thank you for all that you have done for my particular city.  In the wake of all our budget issues, we really needed all that overtime charged to the city government for the extra police needed to make sure that the peace was held as you ” occupied” my city.  I also wanted to extend my gratefulness to how you rallied all those non contributing members of society, the drunks, the street kids, the pan-handlers, etc. They really needed another excuse to demand more hand outs.  Mostly, I wanted to tell you how lovely the park is now that you have left your “occupation”.   Tons of trash to pick up, heaps of garbage, rotting food, dirty clothes, broken tents, tarps, etc.  It really adds some character to what used to be just a boring park with bushes, plants, fountains and acres of grass, very little of which remain.  I have no doubt that the mud will eventually sprout grass again, but in the mean time, provides such a nice surface for all the city maintenance workers to clean up all of your litter.  It was such an interesting concept, this occupation.  I mean, gee whiz, sitting around, doing nothing, for weeks on end making a mess was really useful in changing the corporate culture.  I mean, I am a totally changed individual…

No wait..I am not changed…Im LATE…for WORK…Sorry I forgot, You dont know ” work ” do you.  Sorry about that.  Maybe Next time.

The loyalty card “scam”

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:56 am on Monday, November 14, 2011

Lets say for a minute that you are a manufacturer.  You want to get your product into the stores but your reps have little success in having pharmacies pre-order it.  What to do?  Make a loyalty card and MAKE them order it at the request of their patient….

Yup,  folks, we all have a hate-hate relationship with the loyalty card.  Personally, I’d rather go back to the  sample days.  Let the doctors manage cabinets full of tiny boxes of pills, creams, ointments and etc.  However, like the $4 debacle,  this door has been opened and there is no going back.    I think its one of the most successful ” grab the pharmacy by its short hairs” invention in all of pharmacy history.

One of my commentors on my post about “reverse distribution” lamented the Nucynta that was left to outdate after he had to order it in for a coupon offer.  Sadly I have bottles of Opana and Kadian doing the same thing.  Sucks.  In response to some of these offers, I have declined to order these, instead deciding to help my fellow pharmacists by calling around to FIND the product already in stock and let the customer get it that way. Its a little nuts to have to purchase a bottle of 100 to use 7.  Or buy 30 Ryzolt to use 7, or buy 30 Cialis to use 3. One of the sneakier measures I saw out there was Clobex.  Dr wrote for a small bottle, but the loyalty card was only good for the LARGE bottle . This patient had a percentage copay and the coupon wasn’t a fixed amount.

While the one-time use cards are a pain, the monthly split bill cards are a complete pain in the arse.  My computer does not have a place to alert me that a particular rx is a split bill. I either have to make a note of it or just remember it…and  neither works very well.

Its also quite apparent that neither the doctor nor the patient tend to read the small print on these cards.  These cards that say ” pay no more than XX” for Proxaminaphyl!” dont make it very apparent that they are merely copay-assist cards,  they require that the patient’s insurance have covered most of the drug already.  When it comes to some of these obscenely expensive topical acne products ( who’s face is worth a $1ooo a month anyway?)  many insurance companies balk at covering them already.  I wish I had a number of how many times I have sent a prior-auth request to a dermatologist to have him blow me off by saying ” customer has loyalty card”  WELL DUH….CANT USE IT, READ THE SMALL PRINT.  Some may take $50 off a non covered item, but when you are talking about a $300 to $500 product, it  makes no difference to the patient.  All they see is ” Pay no more than $25″.

I’ve also turned a way a score of Medicare D recipients with $4 Lipitor cards.   ” Try simvastatin”. I tell them.

I have my own solution, of which nobody would ever put into practice….For every loyalty card promo, there has to be a package size available to utilize that promo.   If Big Pharma wants to offer a “free 7 tabs of Molaryl” then Molaryl needs to come in a 7 tablet promo size available for purchase.   Putting aside my made up drug names, lets put a face to this:   Ryzolt–make a 7 tab package size if you insist on only offering 7 free.  Cialis, step up and do the same:  market a 3 tab starter packet.

Of course, if I was king of the world, I’d have abolished all of the cards anyway.

Just my monday morning rant…

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