On Pharmacies

Fran: What are you doing about your kleptomania?
Stan: I take something for it.

-Stolen from my mother, who stole it from the AARP bulletin she is not old enough to get. Yeah, that kleptomania pun was on purpose.

It’s Sunday and I am comfy in my chair in front of a fire, but I have some residual fury about something that happened a few weeks ago. So, you know what really snags my sweater? Obviously, I already have told you above^ but today it’s pharmacies. I consider myself to be an intelligent person with occasional spurts of common sense. But I cannot understand how they get away with the things they get away with. Some caveats: a) I understand that they are a necessary evil in the world today; and b) I don’t have anything against small businesses, self-owned pharmacies, or really many of the people I’ve encountered. But the business at large I just don’t get.

Some background: I have two prescriptions that I fill regularly, one I need to take every day and one I take that I don’t technically ‘need’ per se, but it’s like a bonus so I take it every day because my doctor told me to and I am a rule follower. And then there was the time I had to get antibiotics because I got bit by a dog, which is like a whole other thing. The important thing to note is that my pharmaceutical needs are non-critical and there won’t be severe health consequences if I miss a few days. That being said, most of the time you spend at the pharmacy is waiting in line and trying, but not very hard, to not listen to the interactions of those at the counter.

So here is what makes me angry. There has not been a single time that I have been to the pharmacy in at least the last six months that I or another patron has not struggled to obtain medication for either themselves or a loved one. I cannot wrap my head around this. I get that there are all kinds of manufacturing and insurance processes going on in the background, not to mention coordinating with doctors and checking against drug interactions, but to oversimplify if I may, THEY HAVE ONE JOB. People need medication and they are supposed to provide it. Yet time and time again, the medicine isn’t available, or the price has skyrocketed inexplicably, or your prescription isn’t ready even though you received confirmation that it was, or they won’t let you pick up someone else’s prescription because it’s mysteriously been filled at another pharmacy. Hell, I’ve even had a pharmacist warn me about how to take certain antibiotics because some relative of hers had a previous experience with the same type and it caused all sorts of side effects that were worse than whatever she was taking them for. The pharmacist! Now most of these stories are not mine to tell, but I can’t help but feel for those I see struggling.

Suffice it to say I lost my shit on some poor tech one day. I had received a call from the pharmacy that the prescription I tried to refill was unavailable because they didn’t have any. Which I think is weird, but okay. They reassured me that they were getting a shipment the next day and that I could pick it up then. Fast forward to the next day and now a different tech is telling me no, they don’t have any, the manufacturer doesn’t even have any, and there was no way they would have notified me that my prescription was ready. But this was the third time I had struggled to fill this same prescription and suddenly months of pent up frustration came out. This sounds like a ridiculous thing to do over a prescription I don’t technically need, but I stood my ground. I demanded to know why they would tell me it would be ready when it wasn’t, how I could possibly fill this apparently rare prescription in time when insurance will only allow you to call it in seven days in advance, how absurd it is that there were no other options, and how incredibly annoying it is to come here what seems like every other day trying to fill all two of my prescriptions, because of course they can’t be on the same refill schedule because, well, that would make sense. Fast forward again to me in tears and the poor confused tech unsuccessfully calling every manufacturer available and finally showing me to some over-the-counter alternative that insurance wouldn’t cover but would get me by. Just so you know that I’m not a horrible, horrible person, I did eventually calm down and apologize for my behavior and thank him for his efforts in finding me a solution. I truly appreciated that and I know the situation isn’t the fault of who I took it out on.

Even though it was likely fueled by an already bad day and worked out fine, the situation frustrated me to no end. I see older people on presumably limited incomes with presumably more critical medications that they can’t fill because the price has increased significantly and the pharmacist can’t tell them why or how to get medication they can afford. So, I couldn’t help but think, what if I weren’t as conscientious as I am, what if I couldn’t afford to pay for a different brand, what if this were something that I needed to stay alive? What do those people do? What if I wasn’t fired up and did what I normally would do, which is meekly slink away and cry privately while texting my husband on my walk back to my office? I repeat, pharmacies YOU HAVE ONE JOB. Can we agree that it shouldn’t be this hard for us to get what we need? You don’t even need to be nice about it, just give us our drugs when we ask for them. Although come to think of it, I am apparently quite fragile and a woman on the edge, so if you could also be nice about it, that would be lovely.

Quietly Seething

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