My name is danah boyd and I'm a Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research and the founder/president of Data & 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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165 comments to CVS refused to fill my prescription; is this legal?

  • I’ve never had more trouble than I do when trying to get my script of Concerta filled. My doctor is actually the one I have the most trouble with, and because I live between two different states, it’s never easy. As you know, they can’t call it in because it’s a controlled substance, but my doctor knows that my use of this controlled substance actually keeps me from drinking to excess. However, when I was on the road for two months for work, I had to go back and forth with him on the phone for ten days before he would write me two-months worth of a script. Crazy.

    It is worth noting, though, that CVS did the same to me a few months back. It was the last day of my insurance and I needed to get the script filled or else I’d be paying for all of it out of pocket the next day. It was a Saturday and the script was from out of town and they wouldn’t fill it because they couldn’t call the doctor to see if it was legit. It’s 54 mg of controlled-release Ritalin, for god’s sake. It really, really isn’t that bad – it isn’t that much of a hassle bad – and I do have addicts in my family – they don’t waste a lot of time by scamming doctors and pharmacists. They typically buy drugs from drug dealers.

  • This is the most recent thing I’ve found; it seems as if state law covers these sorts of issues, but the California one seems pretty favorable to the patient, not the pharmacist.

    (I’ve never heard of it being used for non-birth-control.)

  • It is a significant issue, and it may not get better. The LA Times had a story that Bush is planning a much broader “right of refusal” for pharmacists as well as doctors and other medical practitioners. If you think what happened to you was bad, it is not going to get better. And it is one of those regulations Bush is signing under cover of darkness as a lame duck.

    Savage, David “Broader medical refusal rule may go far beyond abortion” LA Times (December 2).

    Not very able to make the link, sorry. Needless to say, you are lucky you have options. A lot of women in rural areas could very easily be stuck without care or options. It needs to be denounced and loudly. I am not very political, but this is basically an example of a religious moral bunch imposing their beliefs on everyone else.

    Best, and keep on blogging.

  • Jon

    I’m so sorry this happened to you. What a nasty experience. 🙁

    Emphasis is mine in these quotes:

    Info: http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_RPHS.pdf:

    In California:

    “Pharmacists have a duty to dispense valid prescriptions and can only refuse to dispense a prescription, including contraceptives, when their employers approves the refusal and the woman can still access her prescription in a timely manner.

    More: See page 81 of this pdf: http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/laws_regs/lawbook.pdf

    733. (a) No licentiate shall obstruct a patient in obtaining a prescription drug or device that has been legally prescribed or ordered for that patient. A violation of this section constitutes unprofessional conduct by the licentiate and shall subject the licentiate to disciplinary or administrative action by his or her licensing agency. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a licentiate shall dispense drugs and devices, as described in subdivision (a) of Section 4024, pursuant to a lawful order or prescription unless one of the following circumstances exists:
    (1)Based solely on the licentiate’s professional training and judgment, dispensing pursuant to the order or the
    prescription is contrary to law, or the licentiate determines that the prescribed drug or device would cause a harmful drug interaction or would otherwise adversely affect the patient’s medical condition.
    (2) The prescription drug or device is not in stock. If an order, other than an order described in Section 4019, or prescription cannot be dispensed because the drug or device is not in stock, the licentiate shall take one of the following actions:
    (A)Immediately notify the patient and arrange for the drug or device to be delivered to the site or directly to the patient in a timely manner.
    (B)Promptly transfer the prescription to another pharmacy known to stock the prescription drug or device that is near enough to the site from which the prescription or order is transferred, to ensure the patient has timely access to the drug or device.
    (C) Return the prescription to the patient and refer the patient. The licentiate shall make a reasonable effort to
    refer the patient to a pharmacy that stocks the prescription drug or device that is near enough to the referring site to ensure that the patient has timely access to the drug or device.
    (3) The licentiate refuses on ethical, moral, or religious grounds to dispense a drug or device pursuant to an order or prescription. A licentiate may decline to dispense a prescription drug or device on this basis only if the licentiate has previously notified his or her employer, in writing, of the drug or class of drugs to which he or she objects, and the licentiate’s employer can, without creating undue hardship, provide a reasonable accommodation of the licentiate’ s objection. The licentiate’s employer shall establish protocols that ensure that the patient has timely access to the prescribed drug or device despite the licentiate’s refusal to dispense the prescription or order. For purposes of this section, “reasonable accommodation” and “undue hardship” shall have the same meaning as applied to those terms pursuant to subdivision (l) of Section 12940 of the Government Code.
    (c) For the purposes of this section, “prescription drug or device” has the same meaning as the definition in Section 4022.
    (d) The provisions of this section shall apply to the drug therapy described in paragraph (8) of subdivision (a) of Section 4052. (e) This section imposes no duty on a licentiate to dispense a drug or device pursuant to a prescription or order without payment for the drug or device, including payment directly by the patient or through a third party payer accepted by the licentiate or payment of any required copayment by the patient.”

    Also, I apologize for linking to this group, but Pharmacists for Life was the only place I could find links to CVS’ policies. http://tinyurl.com/57x69c

    I’m not a lawyer. But it seems to me that you could sue CVS for noncompliance, and win. Barring that, you have every right to file a complaint against that particular pharmacist with your state board.
    Main site: http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/
    Instructions for filing a complaint: http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/consumers/complaint_info.shtml

  • I am a chronic pain sufferer and have been treated like a criminal by many CVS and Walgreen pharmacies. I have been with the same doctor since 2000. I take a drug test every month. I now go to one pharmacy (walgreens), but when they changes pharmacists, I got the hairy eyeball.

    I know that people abuse pain meds, but I have a file a foot thick that documents my condition. I almost came to suing Walgreens.

  • Dorian

    There is a FAQ which explains that what the pharmacist did was probably legal. I’m sorry to hear your story.

    See http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/consumers/consumer_tips.shtml

  • I’m sorry you were treated so badly. Here is a post from Pam’s House Blend with a link to the LA Times story on Bush’s “Conscience clause” and some of the implications it has: most obviously for birth control, but as your story illustrates, also many other conditions.
    http://www.pamshouseblend.com/showDiary.do?diaryId=8470

  • I’ve heard of this happening before, but rarely in relation to non-contraceptive medication. I’m totally scandalized that this is in any way acceptable, that we even have to have laws on the books about it. Before getting my first testosterone scrip filled I read up on the law in Michigan. Luckily I haven’t had any problems, but then again, I also don’t get my scrips filled at CVS…!

  • There’s an online complaint form on the California Board of Pharmacy site (https://app.dca.ca.gov/pharmacy/complaint.htm). It requires that you provide the name and license number of the pharmacist. You (or someone on your behalf) should go back and get that information–which they are legally required to give you–and tell them that it is for the purposes of filing a complaint.

    Then send a copy of your complaint by US mail to CVS customer service (http://www.cvscaremark.com/our-company/contact-us) *and* publish it here on your blog, including the name and license number of the pharmacist as well as the specific CVS branch (looks like it’s store #8829, btw). You’ve got good pagerank; use it 🙂

  • Given the reach of chain retailers, the rude response from a major national outlet is not surprising. My bad experience was here in New York State at the RiteAid of Kingston, when the security alarm went off as I walked in. “You can’t come in here,” the manager bellowed.

    But,drawing on my experience I want to mention another chain, Wal Mart. I switched from my local, independent druggist to Wal Mart, when I discovered in traveling I could pretty well go anywhere in the country. But what I have been astounded with is the personal recognition and warm reception I receive anytime I go to the Wal Mart pharmacy. With their team, it’s like the late ’40s and ’50s in the old, corner drug stores with soda fountains.

    Normally, I’d dismiss this as, well, a factor of being in this smaller,m upstate New York community. But in bigger towns with giant Wal Mart’s my experience has been the same, sometimes better.

    I don’t work for them, have no connection with them, and don’t particularly like their stores. But the pharmacies and their people are Aces.

  • Given the reach of chain retailers, the rude response from a major national outlet is not surprising. My bad experience was here in New York State at the RiteAid of Kingston, when the security alarm went off as I walked in. “You can’t come in here,” the manager bellowed.

    But,drawing on my experience I want to mention another chain, Wal Mart. I switched from my local, independent druggist to Wal Mart, when I discovered in traveling I could pretty well go anywhere in the country. But what I have been astounded with is the personal recognition and warm reception I receive anytime I go to the Wal Mart pharmacy. With their team, it’s like the late ’40s and ’50s in the old, corner drug stores with soda fountains.

    Normally, I’d dismiss this as, well, a factor of being in this smaller,m upstate New York community. But in bigger towns with giant Wal Mart’s my experience has been the same, sometimes better.

    I don’t work for them, have no connection with them, and don’t particularly like their stores. But the pharmacies and their people are Aces.

  • Sreve

    I’m not sure why so many here are linking this incident with the whole concientious refusal thing. It looks like this individual just decided you were some kind of substance abuser and decided to be an ass about it.

    -Steve

  • kd

    bottom line.. the pharmacist acted unprofessional. he could have looked into your history at cvs or even called the cvs that you regularly go to to confirm the script and yourself as a regular customer. if that wasn’t possible for some reason, he should have told you he would call the dr. to verify it. i would not recommend going back to that pharmacy. just as he denied you your prescription, you will deny that cvs of your purchases in the future. not only did he TURN AWAY money that day, but in the future as well. don’t totally give up on cvs though. one bad experience at a store you don’t usually go to with one pharmacist isn’t enough.. i hope. cvs is a great company and is totally for customer service and satisfaction. i guarantee to you that this pharmacist has been warned and reprimanded. in fact, i doubt you are the first, or last person, he has/will do this to and i highly doubt he will remain a cvs pharmacist for long with that behavior. they pay too much money to pharmacists to have them acting in an unfavorable way! sorry to hear about your experience and good luck in the future with your refills!

  • kd

    bottom line.. the pharmacist acted unprofessional. he could have looked into your history at cvs or even called the cvs that you regularly go to to confirm the script and yourself as a regular customer. if that wasn’t possible for some reason, he should have told you he would call the dr. to verify it. i would not recommend going back to that pharmacy. just as he denied you your prescription, you will deny that cvs of your purchases in the future. not only did he TURN AWAY money that day, but in the future as well. don’t totally give up on cvs though. one bad experience at a store you don’t usually go to with one pharmacist isn’t enough.. i hope. cvs is a great company and is totally for customer service and satisfaction. i guarantee to you that this pharmacist has been warned and reprimanded. in fact, i doubt you are the first, or last person, he has/will do this to and i highly doubt he will remain a cvs pharmacist for long with that behavior. they pay too much money to pharmacists to have them acting in an unfavorable way! sorry to hear about your experience and good luck in the future with your refills!

  • Jon

    Steve:

    The Provider Conscience laws allow a pharmacist to refuse to dispense medication. That’s why we’re referring to it. Legal action against the pharmacist or pharmacy would cite violation of that law.

    In California and many other states, the provider conscience laws aren’t limited to contraception. A medical provider or pharmacist can refuse to dispense *any* service or medication, as long as they follow proper procedure.

  • Guy

    Long time reader, first time commenter. 😉

    Since you mentioned that you’re on a ADHD medicine I can’t help but wonder if you’re taking the same medicine as me, Adderall. The reason I even bother to cite this drug is because I have found first hand that there is a tremendous amount of prejudice from doctors (and I would assume pharmacists) over filling prescriptions for it.

    Awhile back when I changed doctors and needed a re-fill I had serious trouble finding a doctor who would even prescribe this medicine for me. The pharmaceutical industry creates so many drugs it’s amazing the bias they create around a few. Without getting too off topic one can only assume/wonder if this starts with advertising campaigns that are propagated by the industry itself to push other chemicals. Though, I admit the reason for not prescribing it is probably far simpler.

    I asked a few doctors what their rationale for not prescribing it was and over and over again I heard the same general sentiment: it’s a highly addictive drug that has a significant rate of abuse and there are other options out there.

    Fair enough. I respect not everyone is in control or in a place where they can safely medicate themselves. That said, I am! ARGH!

    After a dozen prospective doctors tell you that they would not even consider filling this prescription, it came up in initial phone screens, one can’t help but feel like a drug addict! That said, I am NOT! ARGH!

    I’ve tried taking numerous types of medicines to help with my ADHD and this is the one that has worked the best and had the least amount of negative side effects. This one works for me! ARGH!

    After lots of trial and error it’s obvious that if I want to take meds to help me with my ADHD, Adderall is the best one for me to take.

    Being mindful of not abusing Adderall is constantly on my mind. I’m extremely cautious in taking it and only use it when necessary (ie not everyday) and take a very small dose (it’s all I need).

    This post of yours reminded me of my situation. I feel lucky to have a doctor who respects what works for me, who follows up with me regularly about how I am doing, and who doesn’t hold bias against my choice.

    Hope you get some answers to your open question and sorry for going off topic a bit. Go figure, I actually didn’t take any Adderall today. 🙂

  • Guy – you pegged it. And like you, I’ve tried so many of them. The worst for me was Concerta. I remember being stuck in my head realizing that I could consume whatever was in front of me but was entirely incapable of interacting with anyone or anything. I felt like I was in a glass cage looking out but no one could hear my screaming. I realized that this would’ve be a brilliant drug to make me an obedient student and I shuddered and got off that one ASAP. (I was NOT an obedient student as best noted by my mother’s regular visits to the school for the trouble I had caused and being kicked out of my 4th grade class for challenging the teacher which only prompted me to stage a protest.)

    I actually like my lack of attention span. Most of the time. This whole blog, the whole concept of “apophenia” stems from my constantly moving brain making new connections where they really shouldn’t be made. I come into difficulties when I need to engage in sustained writing or sit and consume in large doses without engaging. (This is why classes and I are a deadly combination if they aren’t interactive. And why I read books in the least linear fashion since my brain skirts off and I have to loop back to the text. Bad for sustained reading, great for intellectual thinking.) I pay attention to people telling me their stories by weaving models around them and what they’re telling me as they go and then trying to break those models by asking questions that would complicate them. But I have yet to find a strategy for writing solo. I’m soooo good at writing with people, but dreadful at writing in a sustained fashion alone. Needless to say, dissertation is hell. The reason that my blog has been valuable is that it’s the outburst of pent-up thoughts, a kind of writing that works best without being medicated.

    But yes, it’s always been a struggle. Doctors want me to be always “focused.” Admittedly, things like driving can be complicated by my wandering brain. So they want me on slow-release stuff all the time. But this drives me batshit cuz I feel like I lose the core of me. So I prefer to take it much less frequently.

    For whatever reason, my chemistry doesn’t make Adderall – or other amphetamines for that matter – abuseable substances. All I get is more focused and it brings out my obsessive compulsive coping mechanisms to an extreme. Too much focus is off-putting and I get really anti-social so it’s all around ineffective for anything other than focusing on work. So there’s no psychological dependency issues. And for whatever reason, I’m not affected by the chemical dependency side of it. Dunno why, but I was uber attentive to that cuz I was once addicted to Valium thanks to a doctor who doped me up on it to recover from breaking my neck.

    I am though aware that it makes some people high and I have had meds stolen in the past. But I totally agree with you that others’ abuse shouldn’t make it not-an-option for me when it is the right fit.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing your story Guy. It’s always fascinating to hear from others who have gone through similar medical adventures.

  • I’m absolutely not familiar with US laws, but a pharmacist friend of mine has spend a lot of time explaining that he has the responsability of the treatment. Doctors diagnose, and should prescribe a treatment – but the choice of the medecine and the posology, even the molecule, should be pharmacist’s. Two main reasons are that you can have several doctors, but you should have only one phramacist (unless you travel) and doctors as less focusedly trained in avoiding bad combination.

    For some reasons (pharmacy studies are for those who failed medical school; stronger interest in sales) pharmacists turned into drugstore owners, but many still have their medical role at heart, and live it. I don’t know in the US, but my friend says he avoids bad presciption every day thanks to phone calls (mispelled names that could be something totally different, but also the occasional overlooked deadly combo, generally for elderly people who have far more meds, and for whom more precautions are needed).

    If he beleived you had a likely addiction, not only he could have behaved accordingly and checked with you, but he has too – and maybe he tried: ADHD might send the wrong body-language, not unlike craving. Being blunt and not calling your doctor (Is there no unified doctor database just for that in the US?) however is utterly unprofessional.

  • Like Guy, I am a long time reader and first time commenter. As a nurse practitioner and one who deals with the pharmaceutical industry almost daily, I am in complete agreement that people who must live with conditions such as ADHD, ADD, and chronic pain also live with the stigma of obtaining controlled substances from pharmacies. I was taken aback by the way you were treated by the pharmacist. I understand the right of a health care provider to not provide a treatment because they believe it to be harmful to someone, but as a professional health care provider one should strive to at least be nice about it. It is clear that this provider did not make an attempt to sort through any issues that might have been a problem.

    Though we encounter some difficulties obtaining prescriptions for contraception and the “morning after” pill, there should not be added barriers to health care such as the one you encountered. It is unfortunate that pharmacists and other health care providers are driven by numbers and quotas to the point they can’t stop and ask a few questions. Instead, it is a bit difficult to do this and it requires more effort than just refusing to do something. Sadly, I am seeing this more and more among my own nursing colleagues as well as others in health care. As an RN and a nurse practitioner, I have found over the years that simple manners will carry you a long way!

    Maybe we should all go back to using the mom and pop pharmacies…too bad they are being priced and squeezed out of the marketplace.

  • Danah,

    I arrived at your site courtesy of Viviane’s Sex Carnival, since she featured your insightful post reflections on Lori Drew, bullying, and solutions to helping kids.

    Based on what you described in this post, I wonder if the pharmacists in question made a judgment based on your age and appearance, without bothering to verify if you were a CVS customer. The reason why I say this is because in the past I obtained that same medication through CVS in the Midwest, without the problems such as you described. The difference is that I am a woman who is more than fifty years old, with silver hair and a conservative wardrobe.

    My experience with CVS has been very good and the locations were I shopped and filled prescriptions were more like mom and pop pharmacies than departments in a big box megastore. Each store was responsible for ordering its supply of prescription medications based on recent refills and orders. If a new customer had depleted the inventory of your particular medication, that could be the reason why it was not available at your usual location. However, the pharmacist at your usual CVS store should offer to call another CVS location which has the drug in stock so that you do not waste time going from store to store. That is the service I received and that service could have spared you that unpleasant experience. That is their corporate policy, if my understanding is correct.

    I am glad that you wrote about this experience and contacted CVS regarding your complaint.

  • I experienced something similar a few months back that was just as infuriating… I was filling prescriptions the day before I was to have surgery, as I would be homebound for a few days following the procedure. One of the prescriptions was for a fairly heavy-duty painkiller, total number of pills was 10, to be taken the first 3 days after the operation.

    The pharmacist told me that the prescription was “too strong” and refused to fill it, even when I explained the situation. Yes, the day before the surgery I *did* appear to be totally healthy– but my doctor advised that I would most certainly be miserable for a couple of days after.

    I’ve never stepped foot in that particular store again.

  • hey danah, i find it interesting that cvs’ proposed solution was that they could look up your medical information from any CVS across the country. In some sense, that’s not surprising because they’re all “CVS”. But it is also interesting that they suggested a technology solution that involves making your medical history accessible in any of their branch offices and a whole lot of people. Perhaps only a few years ago they didn’t have the centralized infrastructure to do that, and there are privacy implications of the capability. So I guess any pharmacist can look up anyone who has ever been to CVS and what meds they’ve ever bought there. That’s interesting. Also seems funny to me somehow that they suggested a very technology-oriented solution to the trust problem.

  • Steve

    Jon,

    I understand, although I had not known that the law extended beyond contraception. But my comment was based on my perception that the incident as reported did not appear to turn on any question of conscience, but merely an individual’s whim of the moment.

    Or in other words, I would expect that an individual motivated by an issue of conscience (perhaps one who might be skeptical of psych meds, as I am myself) would have approached the refusal quite differently. Hence my suggestion that he was just being an ass.

    -Steve

  • ı have followed your writing for a long time.really you have given very successful information.
    In spite of my english trouale,I am trying to read and understand your writing.
    And ı am following frequently.I hope that you will be with us together with much more scharings.
    I hope that your success will go on.

  • hilary

    Sorry to hear about your problems – one thing in your story stood out” “I have a long history of filling this prescription at other CVSes in Cambridge and San Francisco” I know my local CVS just launched a marketing campaign attempting to get more people to switch their prescriptions over to CVS. One of the benefits they claim you get is the ability to fill your prescription at any CVS:
    “We’re there – whether you’re home or away Our stores are connected by one computer system, so you can get your prescriptions filled at any CVS/pharmacy. And with over 6,200 locations nationwide, you’re never far away
    from a knowledgeable pharmacy team.”

    From: http://www.cvs.com/CVSApp/promoContent/promoLandingTemplate.jsp?promoLandingId=1013#

    It sounds as if the manager handled the situation well, but you can definitely call them out for not following through on their marketing promises.

  • Pharmacy Intern

    In short: The Pharmacist refused to fill the prescription because there was something about it that was suspicious to him. He thought there was a chance that it was not a legitamate presciption and if a pharmacist fills an illegal/ tampered prescription his license can be in jeopardy with the State Board.

    The reason he made a big deal about it being an out of town doctor is because if it is a doctor he doesn’t know (or hasn’t seen prescriptions from that doctor before) he doesn’t know what the signature looks like. When it is a local doctor he can recognize the signature & other writing and can tell if the prescription is fake.
    (Alot of fake/ tampered prescriptions use out of town doctors or even out of state doctors)

    Also since you usually don’t go to that pharmacy he does not have a repoire with you and doesn’t know if you are a trust worthy person. As you know some people abuse the type of medication that you are on, and he doesn’t know if you are one of those people are not.

    The lady with the prescription from Santa Barbara may be a regular customer that he knows, he may have contacted that doctor in the past & know he is real, or maybe the drug she was getting was one that people don’t forge (like blood pressure meds or diabetes meds).

    You know you are a good person and that the prescription is real, but unfortunately the pharmacist doesn’t know for sure. Pharmacists always get nervous when they see pain meds, controlled medications, narcotics, or any other drug that has potential for abuse.

    Pharmacists can refuse to fill prescriptions (other than Birth Control pills) if they feel suspicious or uncomfortable because as I mentioned above it is their license and career on the line.

    However, the pharmacist should have called your doctor if he felt uncomfortable. Pharmacists are trained to contact the physician if there is a suspicious prescription, in order to confirm its authenticity. He should not have just simply refused to fill it.

    I just want you to know that all CVS pharmacists are not like this. Unfortunately, his actions are now making it seem as though all CVS pharmacists are bad, which isn’t true. It all depends on the individual Pharmacist.

  • Have you considered mail order? It’s not as fast or convenient, but the mail order companies fill CL-II and III prescriptions all day long. Plus, some mail order companies have brick-and-mortar stores where you can go as needed. CVS has Caremark, for instance.

  • Have you considered mail order? It’s not as fast or convenient, but the mail order companies fill CL-II and III prescriptions all day long. Plus, some mail order companies have brick-and-mortar stores where you can go as needed. CVS has Caremark, for instance.

  • Max Alberts

    I LOATHE CVS. They actually REFUSE to even carry the morning after pill in Minnesota. And i had a pharmacist who refused to fill an antidepressant emergency medication for me and said, “One more day of withdrawal can’t hurt.” They are absolute reactionary fucking pigs who don’t deserve to be called pharmacists. WOMEN HAVE AN ABSOLUTE RIGHT OVER THEIR OWN BODIES AND THEIR OWN REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS! I STILL PUBLICLY AFFIRM ABORTION ON DEMAND AT ANY POINT IN THE PREGNANCY. FEMINISTS NEED TO STAY UNITED ON THIS SCORE BECAUSE AMERIKKKAN POLITICIANS ARE BROTHERS UNDER THE SKIN TO THE TALIBAN!

  • Leslie

    Today for the first time… my doctor called in a refill for my pain killers that I have taken for sometime now due to an arthritic condition I have. Now the pharmacy is refusing to fill the prescription saying that I am taking too many of them. Never before have I been refused any of my medication, I stated the Doctor called in my medication am I correct the pharmacist said yes he did, the pharmacist then said but you are taking too many of them and we won’t release this. I am taking the same amount that I always have, can a pharmacy tell you what you can and cannot take, I thought that this was up to the Doctor who knows what you need. I feel like some kind of criminal trying to pick up my illegal drugs. My doctor is out of town for a week and it looks like I get to be in pain until my doctor comes back… I can’t believe someone because they want to can play GOD.

  • upset

    Texas–my husband has spinal disk degeneration and is in constant pain. his doctor prescribes his pain medication regularly but he has to go all over the place to get it filled. cvs is the worst about bad attitudes when trying to fill it, but other places are bad too.. walgreens, sam’s club.. they say they “don’t have it” or they “don’t carry THAT”. Obviously a lie, since this is a very common pain medication! this is incredibly frustrating and degrading!! can anyone help me sort through the legal muck of Texas pharmacy laws regarding refusal to dispense? I’ve tried to find info but it’s very sparse. any help is really appreciated!

  • houston rph

    I am a pharmacist in Houston, which could be considered the capital for prescription drug abuse. If the pharmacist does not feel like your prescription is for a legit purpose, even though the Dr wrote it, he/she does not have to fill it. Pharmacists have a “corresponding responsibility”. Meaning even though a physician prescribes something for a patient, the pharmacist must make sure the medication if for a legitimate medical purpose. There are tons of Dr’s here in Houston writing tons of controlled substances…does that mean i have to fill it…no way. DPS, DEA, and state boards of pharmacy will put us in jail for filling a prescription that is “not in the scope of usual prescribing practices.” The pharmacist that you saw was just covering his own butt. CVS wants him to fill it…yes…because they make money….but if something comes up wrong with the rx later…CVS will not support their pharmacist. Pharmacies do not get in trouble…the pharmacist who fills the prescription, and the PIC (pharmacist in charge) gets in trouble. CVS management should not get involved in that kind of matter. If you call the state board of pharmacy…they will just laugh at you…this has gotten out of hand. Blame the law and media for putting the scare in pharmacists for filling prescriptions that may be questionable…don’t blame us!!

  • anon

    Phooey. What I need to know from my pharmacist is that my prescription is being filled as ordered, without question. I don’t go to a pharmacist for morality lessons or opinion polls, do your job and get over yourself.

  • anon

    Phooey. What I need to know from my pharmacist is that my prescription is being filled as ordered, without question. I don’t go to a pharmacist for morality lessons or opinion polls, do your job and get over yourself.

  • Seth

    In answer to your question:

    Although a CA pharmacist may refuse to fill out a prescription if s/he suspects abuse, s/he may NOT deny a prescription for a schedule II drug simply because it is from an out of state doctor.

    I had an almost identical situation as yours. I am in CA for an internship and all the pharmacies I went to refused to fill out a prescription for Ritalin from my MA doctor. I even had my insurance company make some calls and the pharmacists even refused to help them.

    I then went online to the CA Board of Pharmacists:
    http://www.pharmacy.ca.gov/licensing/prescribe_dispense.shtml

    Scroll down the Q&A a bit and you’ll find a question about filling out of state prescriptions for schedule ii medications. The answer is:

    California Code of Regulations section 1717(d), in accordance with Business and Professions Code section 4005(b), allows written and oral prescriptions from out-of-state prescribers. Pharmacies must verify the prescription. The pharmacist should use his or her best professional judgment when filling out-of-state prescriptions.

    A little further down the page is another discussion:

    Yes, so long as the prescription conforms to the requirements for controlled substance prescriptions in the state in which the controlled substance was prescribed. The prescription must be delivered to the patient in the other state. Prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances must be reported to CURES and effective January 1, 2005, prescriptions for both Schedule II and III must be reported to CURES.

    Armed with this information, I went to my local Walgreens to get my prescription. They put me through a gauntlet of evasive excuses. “It out of state” (Not a problem according to the Board) “How do I know it’s a valid prescription?” (Call my Dr.) “This info must be outdated.” (I just printed this out an hour ago). Finally, the pharmacist made a call to a friend at the Board to confirm.

    Fortunately, the pharmacist was cooperative once I got through these questions. If they aren’t cooperative for you, don’t forget to remind them that it is ILLEGAL to refuse to fill out a prescription unless for valid reasons (in fact I saw a sign posted in the pharmacy that said just that). Out of state Rx is not a valid excuse to deny someone medication.

    Hope this helps. The bottom line is that many pharmacies in CA have acquired the misinformation that they must refuse out of state prescriptions for schedule II medications. This is absolutely false.

    Seth

  • Georgia

    By law in Georgia Pharmacist can deny any suspicious Rx’s . Especially out of state C11 or controlled medication if Pharmacist is not comfortable filling or if they didn’t get response or verification back from prescriber especially after hours. Company like CVS, Walgreens and others… they only look for the money, Rx counts. Drug & narcotic agents, Pharmacist and MD’s are responsible for patients health, drug diversion etc…

  • Jack

    I just had a similar experience in Ohio. I’ve been taking Adderall for ADHD for 7 years, the exact same dosage the whole time. I just moved from one town to another about 25 miles away, and tried to get my prescription filled at a local Walmart. Pharmacist refused to fill it. Reason? “You’re taking too much.” GOD ALMIGHTY! Did you weigh me?! Check my blood pressure? My heart rate?! No, you didn’t give me a medical exam, so how would you know how this dose affects my body? Bottom line is, pharmacists do not give medical exams, do blood work, or diagnose a damned thing, so they are in no position to know anything about a patient except whether a combination of medications will cause a dangerous reaction. I have no health insurance and the price of Adderall has gone up by 50% in the last 2 months or so, so I guess I will be going without my medication for awhile. Since my employer told me not to come to work unless I’m on these meds, maybe I’ll even get fired, too. Lovely. Maybe I’ll go join Occupy Wall Street.

  • Leon

    Ms. Boyd,

    I’m sorry to hear you’ve had such devastating experience. You might want to go around the corner to another of the thousands of pharmacies that can be found anywhere in order to fill your highly addictive and abused narcotic. Fortunately you will not suffer permanent scaring from such incident with the pharmacist, yet I feel I should clarify for you that your letigious inquiry will fall short of success. Pharmacist by law just like physicians can decide if they will provide a particular drug to someone or not. They are held accountable if they do not excercise this judgement. Surely someone as educated as yourself either with or without the help of stimulant narcotics can look up the federal and state law regulations. In any case, if you are so concerned maybe you should research a bit more.

  • Shasta

    I too am an adult ADHD patient and was refused my legal RX tonight, because the entire state are out of this medicine.
    Because I have tattoos I believe I was discriminated against. I am not an addict, I don’t even drink alcohol.
    I am sick of being treated like a drug addict because I am trying to better myself and my state of mind.
    Its totally ridiculous.

  • lol

    awww poor adhd “patients” without their amphetamines. get a life. too many drug seeking morons out there, i can’t blame the pharmacist for protecting their license. your medication is not medically necessary like digoxin or insulin, and it’s a controlled substance he can refuse to fill it all day long.

  • Juanita

    I too live in Houston, Texas and have seen a lot of prescription drug abuse. And with this going on, you have a lot of children, young adults and adults strung out on prescription drugs, and it’s really, really SAD!!! Not ALL doctor’s are RIGHT!!! It’s a MAJOR PROBLEM here, with doctor’s writing out prescriptions for CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES, to people who DON’T EVEN NEED the DRUG, and they sell the drugs to make profit for them. I watched a LADY who had just picked up a VICODIN prescription, that was prescribed to her, by her doctor, call a DRUG DEALER, to inform him, that she had picked up the pills, and that he could come pick them up. I was VERY digusted with her. And, it’s NOT ONLY her, who is doing this, there are probably thousands of PEOPLE, who are being written NARCOTIC and PSYCH MEDS, who are getting the prescriptions filled that DON’T really need them, or do need them, but aren’t using them for what they were prescribed for. So, you can see why some pharmacist are acting like this, behind the NARCOTIC drug prescriptions. You also have pharmacist, who work hand in hand, with these crooked doctor’s, but the DEA have been taking a lot of these doctor’s down, which is a VERY GOOD THING. The ONLY THING I say about that CVS Pharmacist, is that he was VERY RUDE, and UNPROFESSIONAL. He definitely should have handled this a BETTER way. Him being suspicious was ok, because just because a doctor writes a prescription, doesn’t mean, it’s a LEGITIMATE prescription. This is a case of doctor’s who have ABUSED their authority, and have made it BAD for ALL. Doctor’s and Pharmacist use to have MORALS, but now, you can’t hardly TRUST them now.

  • dan smith

    cvs same old stuff, have had same prescription filled there for five years. Tried this month and was turned away no reason given. so I walked over to walgreens and was advised that because the script was not written in same county could not fill said corporate dcision, at least they gave me a reason. however I have filled this prescription in OK an FL before?? live in FL tried to fill in FL. no go. I do not abuse but my body is dependant on it as was told to me when it was originaly given. I’m wondering if Walgreens and CVS wont fill who will?

  • Albert Pascell

    I have the same problem here with CVS. My Doctors are in Lauderdale, after hurricane Andrew I moved to Fort Myers. I see my Doctors every four weeks. Today I was told they did not have my meds. I asked if they could call the CVS in North Fort Myers? I was told NO, you have to go there. I did that only to be told by that CVS you need to get it filled in BROWARD COUNTY… She told me it is the law… They can not fill it because my Doctor is not in LEE COUNTY. Now I have NO meds, and have to take this 3 times aday. Why can’t I get my meds at the CVS two blocks from my house? I have been on the same meds..For years! Some thing is wrong with what the drug stores are doing to people

  • Troy

    I ALWAYS have trouble filling my ADD/narcolepsy medication. I am so sick of pharmacists acting like they are doctors–if they wanted to be, why didn’t they go to medical school?? If it is a legit RX, FILL IT you idiots.

    The doctors are the ones who are liable, NOT the pharmacists.

  • Really?

    I just called a local pharmacy here in gainesville, ga and was told that my prescription could not be filled because it was not from a local doctor. The doctor I go to is in Athens, same state. My son takes adhd meds. I have called at least 6 pharmacy’s here to make sure they have the medication, because of a shortage of it..and no, I was not directed to another pharmacy that could fill it, I did ask. I also asked if this was a state law..and was told no. EH? I feel like I am in the twilight zone! Got the prescription yesterday..still trying to find someone to fill it!

  • Rick

    My god, it’s good to know that I am not the only one that has experienced this insanity. I have been to 2 pulmonologist, a gastroenterologist, an ENT, an MD and an allergist to locate the source of a persistent cough. In 2007, my second pulmo prescribed a medication with hydrocodone-a special kind of cough syrup, because not even codiene would touch this cough. I was amazed at the effectiveness! The coughing had been so bad that I nearly blacked out a couple of times while driving so this was a miracle cure for me. Eventually it became necessary to increase the dose. The MD reviewed the dosing, and although beyond recommend range, found it to be effective in the long run. Now I have found that my long term pharmacy refuses to fill it because he does not feel comfortable with it. Despite the fact that it has had no adverse effects over the last 5 years he just refused to refill it. And I am told there is nothing I can do. Welcome to Missouri!

  • Nate

    CVS is a rip off and has the worst customer service of any pharmacy. Do not use CVS!

  • Cathy

    I have been researching online all morning and afternoon trying to figure out what the hell is going on. This sort of thing is now happening to me here in Texas. I live in Sugar Land, Texas a pretty affluent area. I have had my pain medications filled out CVS pharmacy for a long time now, but the past 3-4 months, every time my doctor has to make an adjustment in dosage I get flack from the pharmacist. I am a chronic pain patient have been for years with serious chronic pain, due to several spine and joint conditions. I always thought if you stuck with one pharmacy that you shouldn’t have any problems. That is not the case any more especially for chronic pain patients now. I discussed this issue with my pain management doctor she practices at UT physicians Spine Center and she said this is becoming a problem for many of her patients. The other day I was told by CVS that they could not refill my pain meds as they were out of that medication and did not know when they would have more in stock. This left me to call about 8 different local pharmacies to see about getting my medication filled and every one of them said the same thing. I am thinking that these pharmacies are now just refusing any patient with any pain medication prescription. Is there no recourse for pain patients? What does a legitimate pain patient do when encountering this. To the poster of this article you are not alone, folks like me are running into the same issues and this is getting serious. I would not be able to get dressed or move or walk without my pain medication due to some very serious ongoing chronic pain. I am scared to death now, and would like information on who in Texas to call or write to, to complain about this. Can I hire an attorney?