Thursday, October 3, 2013

Open letter to pharmacy chains

Dear pharmacy policy maker and procedure designer,

Having a kid who requires a controlled substance medication is tough.  Some people, like me, have more than one and that’s even tougher.  Take a minute to imagine that reality.  Disorders, diagnoses, anxiety, specialists, medical bills, school problems, behavior issues and the list could go on.  

The last thing I should have to deal with is spending a day driving around town looking for my children’s controlled medication to fill their prescription.

Let me paint the picture of why that happens.  Typically when one of these controlled prescriptions is changed, it is not in stock at my local pharmacy.  This is understandable considering it’s a new prescription.  The pharmacist of course recommends trying a different location.  However, because it is a controlled medication the pharmacists at the other locations are not allowed to give information over the phone about whether they have it available.  Not even to other pharmacists that work for the same company.   Ergo, I drive from pharmacy to pharmacy to pharmacy to pharmacy….infinitum.   Last time, I got “lucky” and found it at the eighth pharmacy.  Today I had to accept that I couldn’t give my child what they needed when they need it.  The end results my supreme frustration and more importantly my poor child has to suffer the consequences at school.  

Why, you might ask, didn’t I ask the pharmacist is advance to order it?  Oh, I did.  I have.  They apparently can’t order the medication unless they have a prescription that needs to be filled immediately.  However a special order takes at least 5 days.. The response to “immediate need” is a week of wasted education.  So then I start driving, and the next month we repeat the cycle.  I begged the pharmacist at my store to order one medication a month ago- you know, after finding it on my eighth try across town I was desperate to not have to drive around a month later.  It didn’t work. At the moment my fingers are crossed that she’ll only miss one school day of medication, but the pharmacist did not seem optimistic it would arrive when she expected it.

What am I supposed to tell my daughter’s teacher?  “She may be able to do her work without disrupting your classroom by Tuesday.  Cross your fingers!”  Can you imagine her reaction when I describe the problem?  I’ll sum it up: incredulity.  

Obviously, I understand the public safety implications of why controlled medications need to be controlled.  But there has to be a smart way to make this situation tenable for parents.  Can not some secure system be put in place through the store computers?  Or how about this free idea, what about over the phone verification codes so that at least your pharmacists could call your other pharmacists with verified identity and locate these medications?

All I know is that the current system is horribly broken.  Myself and a lot of other parents of special needs children would really appreciate you fixing it.  We have enough things to deal with that aren’t fixable.  

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