My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research, a Research Assistant Professor in Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, and a Fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Buzzwords in my world include: privacy, context, youth culture, social media, big data. I use this blog to express random thoughts about whatever I'm thinking.

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CVS refused to fill my prescription; is this legal?

A week ago, I went to my normal pharmacy to get a prescription filled. When they told me they were out but could order it for me, I decided to try the nearby CVS. I was trying to make errand-running a one-day event. I walked into the CVS on Lincoln in Venice and politely waited my turn. When I handed my prescription to the clerk, she turned to the pharmacist to see if he had it available. He looked my prescription, looked at me, and said “I’m not filling that.” Confused, I asked him what? He repeated that he would not fill it and gave me a look that made me feel as though I was somehow a bad person. When I asked why, he grew curt and told me that he doesn’t fill prescriptions from out-of-town doctors. The woman waiting in line next to me rebuked his claim when she responded, “you always fill mine and my doctor is in Santa Barbara.” He silenced her with a stern look and told her this was none of her business. Standing amidst a flood of customers, I was too shocked and embarrassed to know what to do. So I left.

I’ve heard stories of people being refused emergency contraception, but my prescription has nothing to do with birth control. I’ve heard stories of people abusing the ADHD medication that I’m on, but I’ve been responsibly taking this particular medication since 2001 and my doctor would’ve easily confirmed that. I am a Berkeley student and my doctor is based in Berkeley. I have been seeing him since I arrived in Berkeley in 2003. When I moved to Los Angeles, he and his colleagues started sending me a physical prescription to fill down here provided that I visit annually for a check-up. Because my prescription is scheduled, it can’t simply be called in. Due to a bad reaction to whatever gelatin or sugar is used in the generic, I’ve always been given the brand name prescription. I hate paying the extra money, but I hate the headaches a whole lot more. While I’ve been given plenty of sympathetic looks when I shell out major duckets for the prescription, I’ve never been given a problem by a pharmacy before.

My shock has since turned into a series of emotions. Confusion, anger, frustration. I contacted CVS to voice my complaint and was told that “a Pharmacist works under their own private license and reserves the right to refuse to fill for any reason.” Is this true? I cannot find authoritative information on the matter and I’m quite confused, so I have some questions for anyone who knows more than I do:

  • Under what circumstances can a pharmacist refuse a prescription?

  • Are there laws that dictate when and how pharmacists can refuse a valid prescription even when it can be confirmed by the doctor and does not conflict with any other medication?
  • Are there examples of people being denied legitimate prescriptions for things other than contraception?
  • How often are people denied their prescriptions?
  • What recourses and alternatives do patients have when they are denied?

According to the USA Today, “The policy at most drug store chains and the American Pharmacists Association is that druggists shouldn’t be forced to violate their beliefs, but they must make arrangements so the patient can still get the pills from another pharmacist at the store or direct the patient to a store that will fill the order. That makes sense. Pharmacists with objections to some medicines should identify those situations ahead of time, and stores should let the public know their policies.” This was not the case at CVS. There were no signs saying that they wouldn’t accept my prescription nor did the pharmacist make any offer to connect me with someone else or encourage me to come back at a different time. He simply chased me away and glared at me as though I was a criminal.

Anyhow, I’m not sure what I can do other than never step foot in a CVS again. I’m lucky that I have choices, but, knowing that many people do not, the way that I was treated and refused service makes me really upset.

Update: the CVS pharmacy supervisor of Los Angeles called me to get more information. He agreed that what the pharmacist did was inappropriate and that, if he had doubts about the legitimacy of my prescription, he should have called Berkeley or held onto it to call in the morning. The supervisor said that he would make certain that his pharmacists had a proper protocol for what to do when they were confronted with similar situations. He was deeply apologetic and professional.

The supervisor also made me realize one omission in my story. I have a long history of filling this prescription at other CVSes in Cambridge and San Francisco. The supervisor told me that the pharmacist would have been able to look my name up and see that record at other stores such that, even if he had never seen me before, CVS would have recognized me and my prescription as legitimate and having history.

I don’t know what the outcome will be for the pharmacist, but my hope is that CVS will actually do something to redress the broader issue, if only to not blemish their brand. Hopefully my experience and willingness to object will lead to new policies that will protect those less fortunate from being denied prescriptions in the future.

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139 comments to CVS refused to fill my prescription; is this legal?

  • Cindy

    Danah,

    You may be one of the few people who take your Adderall/Ritalin as prescribed, but it sounds like you are ignorant of the fact that it is an AMPHETAMINE–the exact same molecular structure as SPEED and is a Schedule II narcotic. It has a high rate of abuse, it has caused psychosis, heart attacks, strokes and even death. It does damage to the brain that is irreversible. My son has been addicted since he was prescribed it in college, unbeknownst to me–and his life seems to revolve around getting it–add to that he was prescribed xanax to counteract anxiety caused by it. It is such an addictive and dangerous drug that it is banned in several countries. I hate to say it,but you sound very self-centered, concerned only about ‘your individual rights’ and completely oblivious to how much harm Adderall has done. I for one, am thankful that there is a pharmacist out there with ethics that actually gives a damn. He/She doesn’t know you from Adam, so it sounds like he was just trying to do the right thing.

  • Gayle

    Danah, I have been prescribed Adderall on and off. Currently I am off but recently talked with my Physician and we decided I needed to get back on it. Off to my local CVS Pharmacy I went to get the script filled. It was denied, reason, I am too old to be on Adderall. Since when did anyone outgrow ADD. Our situations are different but the outcome for me feels the same as you described.

    Cindy, for those of us who have adult ADD Adderall and the likes slows us down and calms our racing thoughts. If taken as prescribed and monitored by your physician complications can and are avoided. If a person is experiencing anxiety while taking Adderall their dosage needs to be adjusted, obviously it is too high. Drug seeking behavior as you described about your son indicated misuse of the medication. Your opening statement suggests that this was the case. You are correct in stating that the Pharmacist didn’t know Danah from Adam so he/she was stereotyping her unjustly. You ma’am seem to be the ignorant one here. You also seem to be bitter because of your son’s actions. Don’t take that out on the people who are responsible with this medication and benefit from it greatly. You have no idea what it is like to suffer everyday with ADD/ADHD.

  • Julie

    OK Carol, I feel for you and your son’s addictions BUT once again the rules have to change for the “rule breakers”. I am a responisble professional 40 year old that was prescribed Adderall XR by my physician but only after a psychologist recommended it. I like many others have struggled for 25+ years with ADD. Each month I have to race to the other side of town (because I work doctor office hours also), then I drop the Rx off at my CVS and wait, and wait. I have been a patient of this CVS since 2004 and all of a sudden I am some pill popping, drug seeker. I have been told that I cannot have my Rx filled today because the pharmacist “already filled his quota of narcotics” or he didn’t have time today. No Joke!
    Self- centered…I don’t think so. How about law abiding, hard working, tax paying, family raising citizen who doesn’t like being treated like a druggie for medicine that definitely isn’t the end all be all cure. Adderall can be highly addictive in the hands of the wrong people but NOT all people who take it are addicted.
    Your beef should be with the doctor who thinks it’s ok to pass out Adderall and Xanax like it’s candy. Don’t throw darts at responsible people because your son misused the drug. Oh by the way, I have lost family members to street drugs and Rx drugs. If they want them…they will find them, no matter what CVS does.

  • John black

    Hey Cindy, shut up. You sound like a total B!

  • Andy

    I can see why the pharmacist would have been suspicious of this prescription. 1) prescribing dr is miles and miles away, 2) the prescription was for a highly addictive and highly abused substance 3)brand only is a common request of abusers 4) you were a new customer unknown to him. He is obligated to protect the public, by law, to interrogate every prescription for controlled substances in order to prevent misuse and abuse. By comparison, he refused to fill a medication for ADHD… not heart disease, diabetes or cancer. Perhaps the dosage was unusual as well or the prescription appeared fake. Perhaps you aren’t up to date with the narcotics addiction and narcotic related deaths that plague this country. Lets not forget, you were not ordering a Big Mac!

  • Andy

    Gayle

    I think you owe Danah an apology. Comparing your struggle to live with ADD/ADHD to the struggle of the mother of an addict is vey cold and self centered. She doesn’t know how you have struggled with your mental illness as you have no idea how she struggled seeing her son partake in abusive drug behavior. In my personal experience, I’ve seen way more destruction and lost lives due to drug abuse than to ADHD, so I admit I am biased.

  • Jennifer

    Cindy – the fact that your son has an addiction issue should not be used to generalize the effects of a medication on a large population. While it is true various countries have banned the substance, you do not mention these countries have banned it primarily because of its effect on children and adolescents, not adults. You also forget to recognize the many benefits it offers adults who take it responsibly under the supervision of a Doctor.

    I don’t find the writer to be self-centered at all. I find the pharmacist to be an arrogant ass who should have been more professional in carrying out what he perceived to be his duties. He clearly got more pleasure out of embarassing the author than he did out of doing this helpful “good deed.” I have no issue with him verifying a prescription, but this situation could have been handled far more appropriately.

    Please remember, while there is a responsibility for a pharmacist to verify prescriptions, no one is responsible for an addicts behavior except the addict. Understanding this is far more helpful in dealing with an addict than blaming others for the addicts behavior. I can say this because I have a number of family members who are drug / alcohol addicted. An addict will get their hands on whatever they need to alter their reality, regardless of laws or road blocks. The problem is not access to a substance, the problem is whatever issue is causing them to need to access the substance in the first place.

  • rudy

    Today after many years of taking ritalin for my disorder, the pharmacy wanted a diagnostic code. I have been on this meidcaion since 1999. WTF. I have used the same pharmacy for over 3 years. I have done nothing wrong. It seems I have to deal with another ignorant pharmasist.

  • Robert

    Danah, you might be my new best friend! Hahaha! I like your other blog posts, as well. But, to get to heart of the situation, before I get distracted, I have had this similar experience, and recently posted my story on an ADD forum. There are specific HIPPA laws that cover all forms of medical providers, including pharmacists. Not only did the pharmacist breach your confidentiality, but caused you undue duress while performing his duties, which he/she swore to uphold, and is part of their licensing board.and review. The store in which pharmacist is employed, is also held liable for any misconduct, including pharma assistants, whom also take a sworn oath for upholding HIPPA laws. You have choices for legal action…no, Im not an attorney, but I have had this experience. Also, no one is allowed to hold your property, especially under duress, without filing a charge against you…meaning…they can not hold identification or scripts that are assigned to you by your prescribing doctor….unless they have an officer of the law involved, and he/she takes the script for evidence of wrongdoing….most criminals will bolt at any sign of trouble because they either have false ID or are working under a false name. They count on this….they, being pharmacies….so the pharmacies believe they can do this to anyone! This is false. They can make a photocopy to use later if the pharmacy feels it requires police involvement. Just as you have legal rights to all of your medical records, you have a right to your prescription, with your name, and doctor’s signature, on it. Most people don’t know this and relinquish their rights. If the DEA wants you, they will find you! If any medical office shreds.any portion of your medical history, without your consent, or disseminates any health record history without your consent, they are in violation of HIPPA. Meaning, fines, jail, loss of licensure, and negative marks on future licensure review boards.
    I surely hope posters, like Cindy, realize this. Because if you are in the med field, like myself, I will find out if you treat pts this way, and will make sure your license is revoked!

  • Robert

    Danah, I apologize because I am experiencing hyper-focus right now! Cindy, I hear your sadness and frustration with your son, and the situation he has put himself in regarding his medication. You are correct, these are powerful meds. Perhaps, a better way to look at it is your son may have some underlying issues regarding addiction. This is not uncommon in the collegiate arena where students fake adhd to get prescriptions, or buy the meds from other sources. May I suggest a long talk with his prescribing doctor and get to the bottom of your son’s addiction issues. I know it is easy to blame the meds, what mother wants to actually blame their child? I get it….it would be easy for me to blame my parents about the years I struggled with ADHD as a child, teen, young adult, now grown adult. Heck, I even asked, why didn’t someone know something?!!
    So, you can blame the meds, your son, the doc, college, even better, yourself, but that will not help anyone. Also, attacking others is not helpful, it just excludes you from the conversation. My mother, God love her, still has to remind to get off the pot Im pissing in, to realize what life has to offer….bitching and moaning never got anyone anywhere! My best hopes and prayers to you and your son!!!

  • Ben

    Cindy you are just rude! Some people need that medication to do their normal day to day function.

    I have been on adderall all my life. I never had a problem with getting it from CVS, when I lived in MI. But in LA for some reason CVS refuses to fill it all the time. I have been living here for three years now and they still refuse to fill it but Ralphs and Rite Aid fill them. Their excuse is they are out and cant order it. But I got news from one of the people there that its a bunch of bullshit. They actually do have it in stock and choose who they give it to.

    This is actually illegal and against the American with Disabilities act.

  • Leigh

    Does anyone know of a medication that works as well as ridalin for narcolepsy but is either not a scheduled drug, or is easier to obtain than ridalin. I have experience similar problems in Alabama I am about to return to Florida for the winter months. My dr mails me my prescription so my first hurdle is the “we dont fill out-of-state prescriptions”….followed by….we dont have ridalin in stock and do not know if or when we will ever have it again. I have severe narcolepsy and will ask my physician to swap meds to anything that will help me stay awake….even if it is NOT narcotic…….any suggestions are appreciated

  • Kathy

    They often make you feel like a criminal for purchasing ADD meds. My husband is a college professor who has used ADD meds for years prescribed by a psychiatrist who is an expert on ADD. No one wants to take medication, but you have to weigh the pros and con’s and weigh quality of life requirements. Adderal and other ADD meds have transformed so many lives for the better in terms of production, capability, organization, and being able to contribute.

    We don’t stigmatize alcohol use even though millions of people overuse it and have alcoholism.

    And alcohol is not even a recognized medical treatment.

    All I have left to say is just that that pharmacist is a judgmental jerk. Wonder what he’s hiding?

  • Bobby P RPh

    Under what circumstances can a pharmacist refuse a prescription?

    -Pharmacists have the final say pretty much what happens in a pharmacy. Chances are, they’ll be pretty helpful since most big chains have metrics focused heavily on number of prescriptions filled and sold.

    Are there laws that dictate when and how pharmacists can refuse a valid prescription even when it can be confirmed by the doctor and does not conflict with any other medication?

    -Not really, the only thing that maybe conflicts with this is the pharmacist is discriminating based on race/gender/sexuality/etc.

    Are there examples of people being denied legitimate prescriptions for things other than contraception?
    How often are people denied their prescriptions?

    -I’ll clump these two together. First it’s very rare for the vast majority of drugs. However, in Danah’s case it’s relatively common. Adderall is clumped together with drugs like oxycodone and morphine in the eyes of the DEA. With all the attached regulations and penalties, and trust me, the penalties are quite severe. Recently in Florida there was a huge witchhunt where pharmacists with Walgreens had their DEA licenses pulled for filling pain medications from “pain centers”. While this was happening MDs who actually prescribed the medications just had a wrist slap. This essentially set the precedent that pharmacists have to be the watchdogs so I wouldn’t be surprised if Danah’s story becomes more common.

    What recourses and alternatives do patients have when they are denied?

    -If it’s a large chain like CVS/Walgreens, contact the pharmacy district manager <- important point since the pharmacist has the final say in terms of all pharmacy issues, so you have to go one step above them. Chances are though, the DM will "look into it" and just wait for you to go and fill it somewhere else. I really cannot emphasize how much a pain the DEA is making the dispensing of these medications, it's hard for a customer to understand the hoops pharmacists have to jump through, but trust me, pharmacists will value their livelihood over you getting your Adderall.

  • JENN

    After reading the reply from Cindy I have to say it sounds like she is the ignorant one. There are plenty of people out there that need medication such as Adderall. My son is moderate ADHD and for 7 years I tried everything from counseling to behavior modification. If it was not for that medication my son would still be suffering. Adderall really made the difference in his life. Not everyone taking these medications are drug abusers, some people need them. That pharmacist could have very easily made a phone call to get the information he needed to be sure you were not doing anything wrong. Assuming and turning you away was wrong. I’m sorry Cindy that your son has an addiction to the medication but the doctor he saw that was fast with the pen and your son for not taking it as prescribed is to blame. There is a data base for these things if he is doctor shopping and running to different pharmacies to fill it shame on him, and the pharmacies for not checking that data base, and shame on the doctors for handing it out like candy. If every pharmacy acted this way what would happen to the people that really needed the medication. They should suffer because people like your son choose to abuse it? Sounds to me like that pharmacist has a problem putting his personal opinions aside and doing his job. Speaking to you in front of other people was wrong as well, he should of taken the time to address you alone instead of raising his voice for everyone in line to know your business.

  • Laura

    Leigh, Good luck with getting a pharmacy to fill your prescription here in Florida. It is almost impossible to get any controlled rx at chain pharmacies. You might try a smaller local pharmacy to fill your prescription. But be prepared to give them all of your prescriptions if you have some. Also, have you tried Nuvigil or Provigil for your narcolepsy? They are pretty pricey but that’s what my Dr is recommending now.

  • Jerry

    Cindy:
    I originally read through this post to see if other people had the same problem with CVS that I had today. Now, seeing your ignorance and stupidity, I have to comment. “You may be one of the few people who take your Adderall/Ritalin as prescribed, but it sounds like you are ignorant of the fact that it is an AMPHETAMINE–the exact same molecular structure as SPEED and is a Schedule II narcotic.” Sounds like you are a scientist? One of the few people who take their Adderall/Ritalin as prescribed? Sounds like you are morally superior to everyone else! Maybe you should do your research and know what you are talking about before you make general declarations on discussion boards. I am sorry to hear your son is an addict, but he is the exception, not the people who take their medicine as prescribed. Also, I’d like to know where you heard that Adderall and Ritalin cause permanent brain damage? Again, posting your opinion without facts is dangerous to people who need help for ADHD. ADHD is a real disease and doesn’t mean the person is crazy or a pill-popper. It means they have certain chemical imbalances that do not allow them to focus or causes impulsive behavior. Think before you write.
    Danah: Thanks for sharing your story. I am beginning to think this is a problem endemic to CVS.

  • James

    Cindy,
    Sounds like you should’ve raised your crack head son better. Don’t project onto people for your shortcomings as a parent. Exact same molecular structure is a stretch, similar would be fitting. You sound like someone who likes to use Wikipedia for your facts.

  • James

    I’m a registered pharmacist and used to work for CVS. Pharmacists are under intense pressure from their respective boards and their supervisors, who may try to speak out of both sides of their mouths on things, to scrutinize every controlled drug that comes their way. In fact, CVS in florida was sued for millions of dollars because their pharmacies filled large amounts of narcotics from pill mills. I think it sucks for normal people just trying to get scripts filled in out of town pharmacies, but pharmacists have to protect their license. By the way, it is not illegal to refuse to fill a prescription. Sometimes it is encouraged and even required if the pharmacists professional judgement deems a prescription inappropriate.

  • Cindy L.

    Costco recently grilled me in an accusatory manner as to whether or not I had filled my script elsewhere. How could I if I was still in possession of the script? And then asked if I was early in filling it. I have been a Costco member since it was Price Club and now I’m a criminal? They also took a copy of my drivers license. Who is keeping that info safe?
    Since my daughter is also on adderal and going to school out of state, we started using an online service for her. Express Scripts may be the way I fill all my scripts now.

  • I read Cindy’s response to Danah and recognized the context of her response. Cindy is so busy blaming others that she seems to have failed to recognize her responsibility for her own son’s condition. Her overbearing, know-it-all manner of misrepresenting facts is clear. I imagine her parenting style was based on generations of abusive behavior and resulted in her son’s attempt to escape through drug abuse and the associated lifestyle. Had Cindy sought counseling then she may have understood the difference between medical chemical imbalance and escapist behaviors – both can lead to addiction and both can be resolved through treatment. All pharmaceuticals have the potential to damage and even be fatal; Cindy’s rant about molecular structure do little to address the dilemma of DEA interfering with doctors effectively treating their patients. If the DEA was really concerned about public health, then both Alcohol and Tobacco would be illegal as their fatality rates make all others pale in comparison. I wouldn’t be surprised if Cindy was against the Affordable Care Act because it represents Government Control over healthcare, yet she wholeheartedly endorses the DEA in her response.
    The bottom line is that Pharmacists must use their professional judgement as to whether they dispense controlled medications or not as they are liable for their actions should anything be wrong, and can be sued for medical malpractice just as other Doctors. The DEA has no means of appeal or redress and is part and parcel of the stripping away of American Civil Rights. As someone who is knowledgeable about pharmacy law, I recommend you find a doctor closer to work/home who can interface with your remote specialist so that prescriptions can be written on a local office that won’t raise concerns about potential fraud. Additionally, I would avoid any Pharmacy where you are treated rudely. If you haven’t noticed, medicine is a commodity and there are an abundance of choices when selecting a pharmacy. Choose one you can trust and take your business there. If you have to travel, try to make arrangements in advance with a pharmacy at your destination. While this is not always feasible, it will reduce the stress caused by the DEA rules.

  • Matt

    I have ADHD and bipolar I disorder and have since I was a 5 year old child. I have PRN meds for clonazepam and Dexedrine tabs. (and lamictal) I spent years on these meds, and it can be scary to think that I might not find them. I was able to find a chain to help me because I am aware that they have more access to wholesalers and I still get the “you should try Vyvanse” (did nothing) and I grew up with this combo and without these I’d be going from hyper to thinking I was god and back. Embarrassing.

    With that said, I think there are a lot of people who are on meds for ADHD that do not need them. When I take mine, I am quiet, lazy and boring but i can sit down and organize and appropriately think ahead etc. I have met people on all of the trendy new ones and they can’t shut up and are 100 lbs and I can’t see how that is helping them or, it is to “get my house clean” (I have to wait for mine to wear off to get the energy to do it. I can’t stand them either.

  • Marcia

    Target in Richmond CA refused to fill an RX for Ritalin 10 mg Quantity 240.
    They said they needed to talk to doctor etc. Well they did talk with MD who wrote the script and they still will NOT fill it. I need my medication. Target said
    “you are not in our data base”. In the past I filled all my RXs for the same medication for the last 20 years at Kaiser. I switched health care providers and now I cannot get
    my RX filled

  • karen

    Adderall has helped me and my children. I wish I could stop using it but I can’t. On the other hand I trust God with my situation.

  • Fran

    OK. CVS in Indiana is picky about filling pain medications. I have used the same pharmacy all of my life. I was told I have fibromyalgia, spinal stenosis, arthritis and have always had several medical problems. I see a pain specialist, he wrote me a script for morphine. I have taken this very responsibly for over a year. Even to the point of missing doses. I October I was in a great deal of pain and had my husband of 10 years drop off and pick up my medication. A new pharmacy tech.told him for four days that they we out and could not fill it. I got down to no more medication and hours after I could have taken another dose and this woman was still telling him they couldn’t fill it. I was crying and went back in with my husband and three year old. I finally started to gay very loud and demand my script back. When one of the pharmastics I have known all of my life came over and asked what was going on. My husband explained the situation, because I was crying to much. He told my husband that they did have the medication and it would be filled right then. I was lucky. My sister goes to a different CVS and constantly gets hassled about her pain medications and she has lupus. It is not just one medication they are doing that with and some are very rude…..

  • KD Wyle

    Here is an angle that you pharmaphobes may not have considered. I am required to take Adderal daily. I also have to take Loritab, since I refuse to take Oxycontin. Herein lies the problem. When I am required to go to the doctor’s office to get the following month’s prescription for Adderal, I am quite frankly driving under the influence of drugs. I am able to avoid driving under the influence of drugs normally because I can make my own schedule and can do a work around even on doctor visit days when possible. But it is not normally possible since there is such a small window of time to get to the doctor, then to the pharmacy and back home. I often cannot perform those tasks all in the same day even. I don’t like driving with these drugs in my system, but the alternative of not taking them is worse for the unsuspecting driving population. Requiring me no option but to drive 25 miles to the doctor every 30 days, my doctor truly understands the dilemma, yet she has no recourse. Just as most people are better drivers after consuming one drink, I am a much better driver after taking my medications (usually, sometimes they don’t help enough). But to be forced to break the law just to get a piece of paper in an antiquated system somehow seems wrongheaded.

  • Ann P.

    How dare they play Cop/God, and add insult to injury behave in a rude, ignorant, and treat law abiding citizens like criminals. At LEAST have a private polite conversation with the client.

  • jen

    I’m sorry for anyone who’s family has someone who suffers from addiction but addiction comes from a deeper problem that started before they abuse medicine. It is easy to blame a pill instead of our loved one I have taken adderall for 2 years and am glad for the positive changes in my self esteem and my life. I recently went to a Walgreens like I have for years this was just a different location because its hard to get filled right now they had it told me to come back in a hour then I was almost home when they called and told me to come get it they wouldn’t fill it I have never been so insulted or embarrassed I know the looks of disapproval from the pharmacy i get them all the time even thou this is the only medicine I’m on and have been same dose.for 2 years. I agree that many medicines are abused but giving pharmacist a free pass to refuse people without accountability is wrong not only does it go on your profile to all the other Walgreens but they send a report to the FDA about your refusal one you don’t get to see . Oh and hey if your really lucky you may get to answer to the FDA for whatever the pharmacist felt like putting.

  • Christine

    Dinah,
    As both an attorney and ADD patient, I can attest to the fact that this pharmacist did not break any laws in declining to fill your Rx (though he was skating on very thin ice in terms of a HIPAA violation). As a Labor & Employment attorney, I do believe his actions amounted to a fireable offense, however. I would have advised CVS to terminate his employment immediately because I would consider him as a high liability risk for the company.
    I myself had a recent run-in with a CVS pharmacist who initially refused to fill a prescription of Vyvanse as written because my insurance only covered half of the amount prescribed (I had chosen that month to have my dose split into smaller capsules to take 2x daily rather than one large dose in the morning and UHC does not like this), but made the mistake of referring to some nebulous legal violation in doing so. I calmly explained to him that he should not confuse the law with the way their computer systems process prescriptions; he accepted this response and filled the prescription. It probably helped that I was a week late in filling the Rx because I tend to skip taking Vyvanse on weekends, but I think he would have filled it anyway.
    In any event, I am sorry that you had to suffer the embarrassment and inconvenience this experience caused you and am glad that your feelings were validated by a CVS representative.

    For some of those who have commented on Dinah’s blog post, I would just like to point out that, while prescription verification is both a legal and ethical obligation of every pharmacist, this pharmacist verified NOTHING. He was indeed acting on some self-serving impulse to embarrass a customer.

    To Cindy: A good psychotherapist can teach both and your son about personal responsibility and the evils of projection/displacement. Look into it.

  • Kim

    I’m sorry that happened to you, Danah. I’m studying to be a pharmacist, but I have enough life experience to know that the pharmacist who refused your Rx (though he was within his rights) went about it completely wrong. Please don’t let that be the basis of your judgement of all pharmacists. Drug diversion really starts to jade you after you’ve worked in retail for a while, but a professional should always appear courteous and tolerant, no matter the situation. As stated before, in order to protect professional license, many pharmacists tend to not want to fill prescriptions for controlled substances (which are by their nature highly abused and rarely if ever required for life-saving therapy). A pharmacist may refuse to fill your blood pressure medication (usually because it’s just out of stock, but sometimes because they believe the patient is being double-dosed by their physician and cardiologist, for example), but they must provide them with a viable alternative option (i.e. the pharmacy across the street, phone call to the physician). This rule of ethics doesn’t apply to controlled substances, because, though you may experience some awful withdrawal effects or inability to get anything done, not having the medication will not physically kill you or harm your body in any way that will cause permanent damage. And though she didn’t say it properly, Cindy was correct about Adderall being a highly addictive drug–for many patients, this just means that continued use requires increased dose for the same therapeutic effect as a result of the body’s increasing tolerance of the drug…this even occurs with continued use of insulin and over the counter Afrin, so patients on Adderall shouldn’t be treated any differently from my dad who needs his nightly dose of Afrin to be able to breathe through the night. My suggestion for you is to avoid the big chains when you’re out of town with an Adderall script…these are mostly high volume stores with pharmacists who are over-worked and over-stressed. You’ll get much more individualized care at a local independent where they can take the time to call your doctor. Another option is to be in touch with your physician, home pharmacist, and insurance company to get travel waivers so that you may purchase more than a month’s supply at a time. I wish you all the best, and I hope this helped.

  • Ignorance is Bliss

    Ok people. Let me tell you something.
    When a “PHARMACY” all of a sudden wants a diagnostic code
    Or refuses your script because your “TOO OLD” to be on adderall….. That is sure as he’ll not coming from us. Clearly if it’s asking for a code all of a sudden or is saying your too old. That’s coming directly from your INSURANCE COMPANY. God if you customers could just for a second take a moment to focus on what we are saying instead of rushing us through like: “yeah yeah yeah… But WHY CANT YOU FILL IT” we always try explaining it to customers ONLY A HANFULL AREN’T narrow minded fools and are able to grasp the concept that we do not make the rules on if we can fill it or not. Most of those decisions, we are following the law, and there is no way for us to enter in a made up diagnostic code or tell your insurance company you’re not too old. call them. Take it up with them. Your insurance providers rules however unreasonable they may be, is not our problem. And as for filling scripts, we reserve the right to fill for whomever we find seems to be legit. It is our license, we don’t know half of you from a hole in the wall and all of a sudden a stranger walks in taking 2 adderall in the morning 1 at lunch and 1 in the afternoon. No, I don’t have to fill it. Why you might ask. Because if that script end up being from a pill mill and I filling scripts willy nilly, guess who’s not visiting me in jail: YOU! I didn’t go to school for 6 years to wash it down the drain. If a contractor refuses a job do you make a big deal? No you find a new one. … We have to much at risk to lose it all over an upset customer. The customer is not always right. Hard pill to swallow huh?

  • Lark

    We have run into a unique problem getting my husband’s medications refilled. He has MS and is on prescription pain medication, hydrocodone, which he is to take 4 times a day (not “as needed”, 4 times a day like some of his other meds). We recently moved out of state and found that the nearest doctor accepting Medicare patients is another state away in the opposite direction (221 miles). Based on that, we opted to stay with our current doctor who is approximately that distance away in the other direction. But every time we try to get the husband’s medication refilled now, it is a gigantic hassle. One tech even announced in a loud voice in a crowded pharmacy that our refill request had been refused by our doctor and he said we needed to find a new physician. After calling his office to find out if he had dismissed us as patients, he called me back personally and said whoever stated that was lying. Because of pharmacists trying to play MD as well as the problem of fewer physicians accepting Medicare patients, we have turned to ordering our prescriptions at our old home town pharmacy and having them mail them to us. It’s not ideal since the USPS is notoriously unreliable but the best we can do under the circumstances. And yes, we do travel back to our old doctor every three months for checkups. It’s rather uncomfortable for my husband but it’s the only way we can get needed care as well as medication refills.

  • john

    From what I understand after experiencing a similar encounter is the DEA does not allow Adderall to be sold to you if the location you are buying from is more than a 5 mile radius of your driver’s license. I’m trying to find an alternative medication and have tried Nuvigil, but it doesn’t work as well.

  • Gabi

    I just had this problem today with Kroger pharmacy. They have a valid prescription from my doctor for alprazolam and refused to fill it for me even though I am out of the medication. Their reason was that it was too early. I had major panic attacks in the past without this medication. I have been taking them for 10 years now and never had any issues until now. The pharmacy makes it sound like they don’t have a choice, I even told them I pay for it, since the medication is not that expensive, but no luck. Can anyone confirm if this is a new federal or state law or if the pharmacies are taking it on themselves to regulate medication.

  • harold

    Cvs is a very unprofessiomal place I will never fill nething there I was accused of doctor shopping in front of a lot of customers and ebarrased refusing to fill my scripts I have cancer terminal and I have a counsel or that writes my zanax so because my oncologistwrites my pain meds so how’s that doctor shoppoing I think cvs are a bunch if dumbasses so id suggest to anyone never ever use them…

  • Michael Lee

    Danah, good for you for pushing all the way to CVS management. So many people can’t advocate for themselves effectively. It amazes me how many stupid and ignorant people there are regarding so many life-saving medications like testosterone and anti-depressants, as well as ADHD drugs. How can anyone dare to inject their bigotry into the private relationship between a doctor and patient jointly assessing the risks and benefits of any drug in that particular patient’s medical condition and circumstances. May you idiots rot in hell or its equivalent.

  • Justin

    Every month for the past 7 years in my small town, I refill for my ADD, I am treated as a drug induced criminal that needs a fix. I have NEVER took more than I should, I have never given it out, I have never sold it on the street and I am very religious about taking my correct dose. You know why? Cause it helps! These pharmacies need to realize that not everyone that is on a controlled substance is a meth addict… Wish something could be done for the people that abide to there meds but still get treated like scum over and over!

  • Kris

    I just had a Walgreen pharmacist refuse to fill my prescription at first and humiliated me in front of my teenage daughter and left me feeling completely violated. My daughter was all dressed in her little volleyball tournament uniform and myself in church clothes driving a suburban (I only offer this description of vehicle and apparel so you can see we weren’t some drugatics foaming at the mouth ). We went through the drive thru and handed him my Vyvanse prescription. He looked at the prescription and then asked me for my drivers license with a clear look of suspicion. My instinct was to say I will show you my drivers license when I pick up my prescription and you don’t need to see it now but I bit my tongue and handed it to him. Then he sarcastically questioned me about the name of the doctors office “Skin and Laser Center” giving me the raised eyebrow and sideways smirk. I explained the doctor is an Internal Medicine doctor who also offered skin/laser type surfaces which is not abnormal. He then began to lecture me stating that only a psychiatrist should be prescribing this medicine and how it was irresponsible for any doctor other than a psychiatrist to prescribe this. I requested that he look in the Walgreens computer system and see that they have filling this prescription for over five years. He does and verifies. He then asks me if I have ever been evaluated by a psychiatrist because to be on this med it needs to be done once a year even if another type of doctor orders it. I of course say yes because I want to fill my prescription and be done with this ego maniac person who clearly has an agenda of self serving his ego to build his belief he knows more than doctors. He then with all the powers he granted himself agreed to fill my prescription “this one time” but informed he notated my account for all future pharmacists to see about this serious situation and was calling the doctor to talk with them about this also. When I drove away I felt violated and insulted and wondering if I should be scared that he knows where we live. I think this pharmacist has abused his power and I can’t explain in words how horrible he made us feel.

  • va fleming

    If you read some of these pharmacists comments, it is obvious they are not mentally stable. They want to play doctor and decide who should and should not get a legal valid prescription filled. Most of the pain pill/narcotic diversion is directly from pharmacists and they would rather sell them to cash customers or leave them on the shelf for a so called burglary that they probably staged and get 60% of the street value when sold. Your health is none of their business-they are paid to fill prescriptions regardless of their opinion. If a prescription is forged, then call the police-otherwise do your job and keep your ignorant opinions to yourselves. It’s not our fault you couldn’t make it through medical school so stop venting your issues on legitimate patients. Obviously you all are not doing a great job in deciding who is a legit pain patient as streets are flooded with pain pills filled by y’all but ironically, the legitimate patients are told- sorry- we are out but can order it and it will be in in 10 days. Hope you and your children get the same service when they are in debilitating pain. Karma is a b****. Just keep the numbers of those cash paying patients you diverted to-maybe they will sell you some at street value.

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