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Friday, May 30, 2008

Don't Shoot The Pharmacist! - The offical website

Don't Shoot The Pharmacist! - The offical website

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Customer gives us a prescription to transfer into our pharmacy. Call said pharmacy. Busy signal. Busy again. Busy yet again. Customer comes back. Why isn't it done??? Um, busy signal. Customer goes away angry. Comes back five minutes later. I just called and I got through...the first time I called!
"Gee, wow. You're some really something with a phone," I think (but don't say). I call again, and get through. Transfer prescription. Tell her, "It'll be fifteen or twenty minutes." Disgusted and confused look. What?! She turns to her paramour. He said we have to wait. Why, he says. How do I know, she says. He's had my bottle for half an hour.
"I'll get it tomorrow," she says.
Whatever, I say.
Next day she comes in and when I tell her the copay is $25 she says, "What! The other pharmacy charges $3!"
I explain that I am only charging what her insurance says I need to charge, and that we don't price her prescription, her insurance does.
"So how do you explain that I only pay $3?"
"I can't." Wanted to say, "You're dreaming, lady."
Next day I get a call from the pharmacy from which I transferred the Rx originally. She needed to transfer it back. "Fine," I say. "By the way, what did she pay the last time she got this?"
"$25."
Huh. Big surprise.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Another Memorial Day...

another whine. This will sound a tad insensitive, but I cannot stand to hear another senior citizen whine to me about how "the golden years" are anything but golden. For instance, I have this one lady who has had cancer recur several times, fighting it off each time. At each episode she can only bemoan her fragile state. Now, I agree, being sick, especially with an illness such as cancer, is no picnic. But after seeing a few of my customers--gems all--go through fatal illnesses with nary a whimper, teaching all who encounter them what it truly means to die gracefully, teaching us, really, how to die, I no longer have much patience with them. Especially on Memorial Day.

I want to ask them how many young men died not seeing their nineteenth, twentieth birthday, how many died struggling up some beach in Normandy, Sicily, Okinawa. They never saw their eightieth, seventieth, heck their thirtieth. How about a little humility, a little thankfulness, a little understanding that just having made it to the age of AARP is quite the gift, and one none of us truly deserves.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Ah, another Memorial Day weekend...

spent working behind the counter. Do I mind? Of course not. My friends and enemies alike are spending it camping and having cookouts and such, but I feel they are missing the point. Memorial Day is a day of memories, of harking back to pay tribute to the fallen, of those who have sacrificed for our benefit. Work isn't necessarily fun, at least for most of us; we shouldn't just spend this holiday frolicking without a care, without a hint of the loss we all bear. Isn't that right. It is.

And while we're at it, I rather like to bathe in the fluorescent's gaze and the soft glow of the computer monitor. What I don't like is the constant whine and cringe inducing honk of the customer's rant:
"You should be outside; it's gorgeous!"
"If you can get out of here for an hour you're gonna love it!"
"Too bad you're stuck in here."

Actually, it wouldn't be that bad being stuck in here, except I have to listen to that crap. So shut up, people, and let me enjoy my Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Today's highlight...

A guy pays for a 27 cent --yes, $0.27-- prescription, with a check. He writes the check out (even though we print it out automatically, handing the check back to the customer) and then gives me the check which I then process. The check gets caught inside the register. I re-try. Re-try again. Finally, after describing my love for bank checks, I tell him I'll pay for his 27 cent prescription. Go. Get out of here. Buh-bye.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

I received a comment on my March 26th blog regarding the equal nature of generics to brand name drugs. The comment was as follows:

If generics and name brand prescription drugs are "identical," why do doctors overwhelming only use name brand drugs for their family?

That was an interesting question. I'm wondering if there is a factual basis to it, i.e. is it the questioner's opinion or is there some data that underlies his comment? My own experience with MD's, PA's, NP's, and dentists is that almost all get generics. Some do insist on brand, but I can reclassify these as retired, or nearing retirement age, and coming from a, shall we say, snooty neighborhood. My feeling is that they can afford the best, and so choose to shell out for the
brand, as only the top shelf is good enough for them.

Also, you have to take into account that drug companies fuel the doctor's larder with free (the magic word for doctors) brand drugs. Doctors are pretty much like everyone else: give them enough free samples and they will be yours forever. It's like doctors are walking through some great big grocery warehouse and the little old ladies handing out food samples are actually well-dressed, chatty drug salespeople. Would you like to try one of our newest Lipitors? Just out of the oven! The brand companies know this works, just like the food companies. And it's not just sampling: How many free lunches and dinners does it take to buy one's loyalty? Not many. Eventually--and it doesn't take long--doctors feel the brand stuff is superior.

There is another classification which they fall under: stupid. Anybody dumb enough to pay four times or more what the generic costs is a simpleton. I don't care if they can open your brain up and pluck a tumor out the size of a softball, they are still stupid in the arena of economics and, yes, even other areas of medicine, such as pharmaceuticals.

Most people don't know this, and most won't believe it simply because I tell them, but doctors simply don't know a lot about the drugs they prescribe. Oh, for a handful of drugs, the drugs that they rely on, yes they probably know a good deal, but outside that handful...watch out. They certainly would be surprised to know that upwards of 80% of generics are "branded" and made by the very companies that they feel are "top shelf".
Pet peeve #17...
calling the insurance company, inputting the pharmacy NPI number, the prescription number, the patient's ID number, hitting #3, hitting #1, hitting #2, holding, holding, only to hear this:
"Hello, my name is _______, may I have your NPI number? Prescription number? ID number? Thank you. I'm sorry, but this claim needs to be handled by our clinical line. I'll transfer you now. Is there anything else I may assist you with?"
Holding, holding, holding. Inputting the pharmacy NPI number, the prescription number, the patient's ID number, hitting #3, hitting #1, hitting#2, holdingholdingholding...then hearing:
"Hello, my name is_________, may I have your NPI number? Prescription number? ID number? Thank you. I'm sorry, but this claim needs prior authorization. Would you like that number? and is there anything else I can assist you with?"
No; but thank you for making our wait time for a prescription go from ten minutes to half and hour.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

I am...
Captain Relion (as in rely on, get it?), force of good in the pharmacy universe, bringing the strong arm of Regulation and Law to the drug world. Bitten by the pharmacy bug (Arachnida apothicaricus) at the age of seventeen, Cap'n Relion has sacrificed his life and liberty in the face of unspeakable terrors...just to save a few lives. But what can only one lonely man do in the face of a hostile planet filled with egomaniac Doctor Evils and innocent, but unknowing patients (Homo idioticus)? It seems precious little, however the Good Cap'n has special powers which enable him to wipe medical incompetence off the map (or nearly so): Calligraphic vision, the ability to miraculously read any doctor's writing without need to call and verify, saving many precious seconds; Auto-insurance billing know-how, allowing our hero to simply know through his "pharmacy sense" what a person's insurance is...even when that person doesn't know him or her-self! Cap'n Relion also has the advantage of having a database brain giving him quite an advantage over his competition. He can recall at a nano-second all the interactions (how many drugs and herbs a person takes doesn't matter: he knows it all!) and adverse reactions any drug has or might have, individualized for any...individual. He's simply amazing! Why, just the other day a lady came up to his counter complaining about a bill she received from Medicare. Seems Medicare didn't know she had some other secondary coverage (because she didn't tell them?). Well, the Good Cap'n merely used his powers of Auto-insurance billing know-how and set her on her way (though she was still unhappy as she needed to pay the $135 deductible not covered by either plan and her other prescription needed prior authorization...But wait! Cap'n Relion also has Prior Authorization Powers obviating the need to call the doctor who then has to call the insurance company who transfers him to the clinical line who then puts him on hold only to say, Nein! Zis patient ees not to have zee drug!).

This world is not for the feint hearted...but fear not, for at least we have Cap'n Relion to count and stick and pour!