The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Abbott’s announcement today about Vicodin

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 4:26 pm on Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Today it was announced the Vicodin would be reformulating in response to the changes the FDA mandated requested with regards to acetaminophen contents in tablets.  It came as no surprise to me however that they elected to use an APAP dose that is unique ( 300mg) and in doing so, will require pharmacists who receive a prescription  for Vicodin  ( and please note, it is spelled Vicodin…not Vicodan) to dispense the branded product.  I am sure this will cause much angst to PBM’s all over the place who will have to shell out more cash for the billions of rx’s yearly written “vicodin”.   I am also quite sure that new Vicodin X/300mg  will be phenomenally expensive to BUY but phenomenally cheap to MAKE, hence a potential cash cow for Abbott.

Trust me,  I have no sympathy for PBM’s anywhere, but since everything is all about the money to them, anytime they have to pay MORE for something, they will surely pay LESS on something else or cut benefits to their subscribers, or say its not covered at all.

Therefore, I say REVOLT.  If you get a script written for “vicodin-5”  after whatever day the official changeover will be, ask the MD to change it to 5/325mg generic.  Readily available and cheap for all concerned.

And, doctors,  write your scripts with the strength spelled out  5/325, 7.5/325 or 10/325.  You will be doing your patients pocketbook a huge favor!

Id be happy if Abbot never sold one single bottle of the stuff.



Found the missing post.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:32 pm on Saturday, May 26, 2012

So buried under “draft” was the missing post that thankfully wasnt lost.  All the comments are gone, but at least the awol post has been recovered.  Thanks to those who reminded me which one it was…Apparently I need Aricept.

On a more serious note, A sincere thanks to any of my readers who are in, have served in, or have family in any of the branches of the Armed Services.  It is solely because of you (their) sacrifices that I can have the freedom to blog and not have the  censure of the government or some extremist religion blocking access to my freedoms.

I am most grateful to all of you!

Have a peaceful Memorial Day.

Manager’s Meetings

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:29 pm on Saturday, May 26, 2012

Once a year the Chick is forced to endure a special form of torture known as “Annual Manager’s Meetings”.   There was a time when these meetings stretched over two days, were held in a pretty nice hotel, with breakfast, lunch, a nice dinner and a hosted evening with manufacturers footing the bill for it all.  All we had to do was run the gauntlet of manufacturer tables bragging on their wares.  I never liked going to any of these meetings because it was time away from my family, but since I was being paid to attend them, the irritation was tempered by the larger paycheck.  They filled our heads with corporate BS, compliance presentations, discussions about service and new programs, etc.  By the time we left on Sunday afternoon, we had a laundry list 2 pages long of things we had to implement by the very next day or suffer consequences of apocalyptic  proportions.

A few years ago somebody way above me in the corporation decided to redefine the job description of salaried personnel within the company.  They sent out pages of material to read and electronically acknowledge..and by doing so, become bound by what was acknowledged.  One of those things that was added to the salaried “duties” of a manager was any and all meetings called to attend, all training, and inventory. In a nutshell,  we no longer got paid anything extra for outside-of-normal-business-hours work such as inventories, meetings, training, etc. Nice stab in the torso..

I was not pleased.  Pharmacy Managers have to spend ~40 hours a week IN the store.  When we are called to meetings, we have to make arrangements for coverage in the pharmacy. Previously, the office would send floats to cover managers they were hauling into meetings.  Now we have to cover our own absence….then work for the person who worked FOR us. For 3 quarterly meetings, 1 annual meeting, 2 inventories and misc training sessions, I figure that I now have to work about 40 hours a year….free…doing things that are mandatory…..because its part of my “job description”

This last meeting announcement came concealed in an “invitation”.  When I opened the email, I thought it may be an invite for a CE dinner or something.  No, it was the manager’s meeting “invite”….followed immediately by the words ” mandatory attendance required”.    Somebody does not understand the concept of invitation…

Since it fell on my day in the store, I had my Man Friday some in to cover me while I dashed to the meetings, ( four hours ) then I dashed back to finish my shift.  The next day I had to work 4 hours of Man Friday’s shift because he had covered me. “Breakfast Provided” included sugar laden donuts and coffee ( neither of which I choose to ingest on any daily basis).  Because of the sheer material they wanted to cover they said they would not be breaking in the middle.  That decision was reversed about 3 hours into the presentation when half the room was vacating 1 by 1 as the coffee provided earlier worked its way thru each and every attendee. I made it to nearly 11 am before I finally left for the potty.  Apparently I was the last straw: when I left the bathroom, the lobby was full of attendees getting the ‘break’ they had been told they wouldn’t get!  seems fitting tho huh?  no break in the stores, no breaks in the meetings. why give us what they deny us on a daily basis…?

Never the less the meeting ran over nearly an hour so I raced back to the store to a fidgety Man Friday who had been expecting to leave at X and he left at X+1 hour.

Revealed at the meetings was the fact that over the next 5 months I have no less than 4 live training sessions I have to attend..that are no longer optional.

Their rationale is good but flawed:  They claim we must  move from filling prescriptions to doing these new  functions.  I can appreciate that but there is one piece to this puzzle that is not fitting:  We still have to fill all those prescriptions…prescriptions aren’t going script count proves that…so who is going to do THAT while we do all this NEW stuff?  The crucial component: LABOR was not addressed and has not been worked out, since all these new duties are PHARMACIST duties.

As always the reality of our practice is rose colored by the dreams of people who never step inside a pharmacy. I have  a pretty busy day, and most days I dont have 60 seconds in inactivity.  Not sure how I am going to do all these new things. I am already a master delegator–I utilize my techs to all of their legal abilities.  I am not one of those pharmacists who hijack tech duties  because they dont want to delegate….

Yup, gonna be a very interesting 6 months…and not one cent extra in the pay envelope for me.

The best part of the meeting?  Seeing my friend ( and fellow pharmacist Stan).  we happened to go to school together and Stan dances to a different beat…Thats the best way I can describe Stan.  With nearly 100 people in the meeting wearing black pants and white shirts,  Stan arrives in blue jeans and a plaid western shirt.  It was his day off.  Stan…I love ya!


Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 7:14 am on Saturday, May 26, 2012

Ya know how it is when you move and invariably something goes wrong?  Well, Pharmacy Chick “moved” in a virtual sense.  I have an admin,  he owns the domain to the blog I write.  Initially blopharm was a site that had several pharmacy blogs in it, but I think I am the last one.  It was on a certain company’s server.  Recently my administrator changed the server and for many it went well, but for some, including some of my readers, it didn’t..

For instance my own personal internet provider can’t seem to find the new server when I type in my blog address so I myself have had no access to my own blog. All I get is either ” this site is not available” or just a list of menus on one side of the screen that go nowhere if you click on them.  Its been frustrating but my admin has been working very hard to make it as easy as possible without getting a lot of help from the internet provider.  He did at least force my own computer to “find” the new server thanks to no help from my internet provider.  At this time only one computer in the house actually accesses this site properly when I type in my web address! Go figure.  Allegedly it will eventually work itself out when my IP flushes its own DNS ( yeas I know…a lot of fancy terms)

I would be thankful to know who could and couldn’t find my site and what you saw in the mean time.

And also, apparently a post went missing, (my last one) but its permanently gone I think because its no where to be found on my add/edit blog list.  And since I have been crazy busy the last couple of weeks, I can’t even remember its subject matter to attempt to recreate it!  ( where’s the damn Aricept?)

Leave a comment or email me at pharmacychick11*at*

Thanks for noticing and caring enough to ask!


The Perfect Pharmacy

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 10:33 am on Monday, May 14, 2012

Recently PC received an email from a reader/patient who had been experiencing frustration from her pharmacy. She is a medically complex patient with a lot of needs, but makes a sincere effort to do all the “right things” in order to be what we like to call “the perfect patient”.  She calls in early, allows lots of time for processing, keeps her pharmacy up to date on changes, etc.  And yet, she makes the trip to the store to find incomplete prescriptions, missing meds. etc… she asked me ” What am I doing wrong?”.

We like to blame the patient..and in a lot of cases, the patient IS to be blamed.  They over use meds, they “lose” them, they call is at the 11th hour before a vacation demanding an early fill, they are irresponsible.  They transfer back and forth for coupons so often they lose track of where they are. I could go on and on…and have in post after post. Blaming the patient is easy.

But not always right.

We, as pharmacies, have a certain corresponding responsibility to our patients.  At the very least…to keep them informed. Tho I have no need for pharmacy services ( after all, I take care of my own) I do have needs of OTHER services and it irritates me to no end to have enlisted  a company for a service and they drop the ball.  I order a service and the person fails to show up at the appointed time.  I schedule something and its not ready at the appointed time.  I buy a product and something different is shipped. 

At the very least there are certain things that the “perfect” pharmacy should do for their patients: and I will list them here…

1.  The pharmacy should treat every patient with reasonable outwardly respect and courtesy.  Until its been made clear by either action or deceit that a certain patient needs handling by other means,  everybody should be treated politely.  I may recognize a train wreck from a mile away, but I dont TREAT them any differently.  I may be thinking something entirely different, but I treat everybody with courtesy.  After all, I do not sign my own paycheck.

2.  The pharmacy should call patients when they are out of stock on medications.  I can’t believe I even have to say this, but I do.  I hear this complaint a lot from customers coming from other stores AND from my readers as one of their chief complaints.  If a script isnt’ ready because its just not done yet, well thats ONE thing, but to NOT call when you are out of stock it totally another deal…call the patient!

3.  The pharmacy should contact a patient if they receive a denial on a script.  It pisses me off to no end to find a note on the shelf ” rx denied” and no call was made.  I mean, do you REALLY think I like finding a note where a script should be when John Doe comes in and I get to deliver that news? because the next question is ALWAYS..” why didn’t anybody call me?”

4.  The pharmacy should call the patient if there is an insurance issue:  PA requirement, Termination, etc.  enuf said really.  Call them up, tell them to bring new card, or whatever. but just do it!

5. the pharmacy should call the patient if they are unable to get a certain product by the promised time frame.  It is not our fault if we cannot buy a certain product because of outages or shortages.  It IS our fault if we fail to tell the customer that.  WE had a certain shortage that we had documented we had left a message for a patient.  She came in and was mad that we “hadn’t called”, I showed her the note and she said ” thats not my phone number anymore”….WELL< THATS NOT MY FAULT EITHER.

Dropping the ball is the chief embarrassment I face as being a pharmacist.  We juggle a lot of balls thruought the day and its a rather complicated dance to keep all of them up and organized.  However, like juggling, its all about the rhythm….keep it going in an organized manner and it will likely be done well.   We have a similar system at PC pharmacy.  Friday is my problem child.  He knows the routine…he just doesn’t like to do it….he wants some body else to do it.  He is my buck-passer.   You would think that he has some allergy to the phone.  He doesn’t like to pick it up.

That doesn’t stop me from harrassing him.  When I have the closing shift, my very first order of business when I arrive is to look at the pile of shorts ( out of stock or insufficient stock)  and I ask ( you would think he might figure this out but he doesn’t)  ” have you called on these??”  the answer is nearly always NO. ”  Then would you please get this done?”  I ask, as he shuffles to the phone. Occasionally the am tech beats me to the punch, but not always.

Information is king….who ever has the information usually rules the roost. Its that way in all of business and society.  Sharing certain information is not only important but courteous as well.  At the very least it saves your own skin from getting screamed at.  You will always carry the upper hand in any conversation if you have done your best to keep the patient informed of all developments in a timely manner.

Ive never been yelled at for keeping a patient in the loop.

I would prefer to keep it that way.  I have happier patients that way.

Happy Mothers Day- sharing a memory

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 9:28 am on Sunday, May 13, 2012

For those of you that have read me for a while, you know I lost my mom to cancer 14 years ago, 4 days before Mother’s day.   This day has been an emotional day every since: a mixture of sadness for what I dont have anymore and gladness for the years I got to enjoy her magnificent presence in my life.   A stormy relationship with my father was always made better with her even keel in my life.

Tho she is gone, my grandmother is very much alive, all 98 years of her.  I called her today and even tho she asked me who I was twice, where I lived 3 times, ” where is that?” she asked, what I did for a living (a pharmacist) “ whatever that is“….I feel after 98 years, I can cut her aging brain a bit of slack.  She knew who I was even if she didn’t remember it for very long.  She is my mother’s mother, and the last living vestige of my own mom. I can still hear her voice and her laugh.  She speaks of being close to 100, a goal she has set for herself, and of the big party when that happens. But she also speaks of the fact she is close to seeing grandpa once again, her own parents and her one lost child (my mother).   I am somewhat envious of that because I too miss these people and desire to see them again. Its just not my time yet.

My grandmother was also a nurse.  While my mother worked in the operating room, Grandma was the quintessential  school nurse.  A few times, when I was visiting as a kid, she would take me to work with her.  Starched white dress and little white hat, white nylons and high heels….who wears THAT anymore?  She did…every day.  She would care for cuts, scrapes and lice.   My grandfather was also an orderly–he worked in the operating room, like my mother.  The only photo I have of him working is a joke photo he took of himself with a standing skeleton–and the skeleton had its arms around Grandpa’s shoulder.  classic…

Grandma was always fun to go and visit.  She lived in a big ( well, it seemed big til I grew up) house on the corner in a town in North Dakota.  We would weather wicked thunderstorms in the summer and huge piles of snow in the winter.  She would take us to the dairy in the summer and we would come home with our own jars of fresh cream that we were to shake until butter formed….we thought we would shake our arms off!  We would play in her grass, get in to trouble if we got too close to the slough behind her house ( a huge no no…might drown).  And if we were really lucky we would take 10 cents and get to walk to the Piggly Wiggly and get candy. She had a genuine icebox in the basement…with ICE.

They also did ceramics and they had the coolest kiln in the basement also.  I thought everybody had one and wondered myself why we didn’t back at our own house.

Oh, the memories!

As always, I hung up the phone after our brief ( and repeating) conversation, wishing her a happy day.  And, as always I had tears in my eyes.

I want to be 10 again..shaking a Mason jar of cream.

Happy Mother’s day…

Odd question of the day.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 5:39 pm on Monday, May 7, 2012

Every day has its own “intrigue” shall we say, but todays intrigue came from none other than Mr Chick…..who after leaving a message at work to have me call HIM at HIS work oh god, what has happened now… I dawdle and he decides to call me.must be pretty serious…And he asks:


No, by the way…they do not.

He lost a bet apparently.

You know you are a pharmacist if….

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 8:00 pm on Sunday, May 6, 2012

Stolen right from the facebook page of  my friend Mike, he writes ” you know you are a pharmacist  if you judge people on whether they want brand or generic”.

I thought it might be “reader participation time”…SO, how about you submit to me in the form of comments, how you might finish this sentence:


I’ll start off with a few I can think of.

1.  you have ever frosted a cake with a spatula that has CEFTIN engraved on it

2. you tell patients to discard their outdated drugs, but half the drugs in your own cabinet are out of date.

3. you have fibbed about your occupation to strangers to avoid the barrage of questions you know they will ask.

4. you want to smack everybody who has ever started a question with the words ” I know you aren’t a doctor but….”

5. you have pretty high standards for what makes the perfect white coat, label tape, and pen.

6. you consider foreign pharmacies as tourist stops

7. every note pad or pen you have ever owned has a drug name emblazoned on it.

8. you meet one of your customers OUTSIDE of the store and they say ” you look different in real clothes”