by brendan on 09/23/2009

Walgreens emailed me yesterday to tell me that it would take a few days to fill the prescription I ordered. Actually, I would have loved it if they were that specific. “We’ll let you know… Call the store if you have a problem with that” was the gist of the non-specific note I received.

So I went to the store. Mostly because I wanted to get some cold medicine, but I figured that I could ask the pharmacist when my prescription would be ready while I was there.

While I was in line, I noticed my phone had just buzzed. I didn’t recognize the local number, and I probably couldn’t have answered it fast enough before voicemail picked up anyway. Besides, the pharmacist seemed to be finishing up whatever was keeping him from me.

It was the same pharmacist I always dealt with. Beardy, we’ll call him. He’s a year out of pharmacy school, and he has the bedside manner of a puppy that’s convinced you’re going to punch it in the face at any moment. I explained to Beardy that I had gotten the email, and I wanted to know if I needed to go to the other Walgreens to get my fix. He typed my name into his computer and seemed to wince at what he saw.

Beardy: I just left you a voicemail.
Me: Great! So you beat me to it, I guess…
Beardy: ….
Me: So, do I need to go to the other Walgreens?
Beardy: We gave you the wrong prescription last month.
Me: What?
Beardy: …I sent a fax to your doctor already
Me: Um, okay
Beardy: …and your refill this month will be at no charge.
Me: Great. That $10 co-pay I save will do me a lot of good when I’m dead.
Beardy: [weeps] Please don’t yell at me!

Okay, so I made up the last two lines there. But the rest is for reals. Walgreens gave me the wrong prescription last month. A month, I might add, that proved to be more symptomatic that other months in recent memory. And for my trouble, I get essentially a $10 coupon.

What exactly was the mixup? The prescription I take is cyclosporine, and there are two-formulations of the drug. Modified and Non-modified. I take the modified formulation, which is more bioavailable (i.e. more potent) than the Non-modified formulation. Last month, Beardy and crew gave me the Non-modified version, which effectively cut my dosage strength down. It’s basically the same thing as if I had taken the correct version of the drug, but fewer pills each time.

I didn’t notice the error myself, partially because past prescriptions were all delivered in familiar branded-boxes. Last month’s however, had been removed of packaging and all put into a non-branded orange bottle. The other reason I didn’t notice was because I didn’t want to. The “wrong” pills were smaller and less stinky. It’s too bad I don’t get to keep them.

Anyway. I’m still waiting to find out when I’m going to get my refill, of presumably the correct formulation of my daily drug. CVS Pharmacy, anybody?

There are 5 comments in this article:

  1. 09/26/2009427 says:


  2. 09/26/2009benmcclanahan says:

    They all suck. CVS is no better, and it's scary how negligent they can be. My stepson Adam is on a variety of medications, all of which are almost impossible to find, so once a month we call around to find out who has them in stock. Usually, one of them will have one but no the other, or they have it in stock but they'll read the prescription wrong, or they'll say they have it when they don't, or they don't have enough, or it's too soon to refill, even though the doctor changed the prescription. Every time I go to the pharmacy, I expect to spend at least an hour on my journey and expect to visit no less than two pharmacies before I get everything we need.

  3. 09/26/2009brendan says:

    My prescription drug plan offers a mail-order option, where you get several month's worth at a time for a discounted price. I think it's time to give that option a try and see if the experience is any better.

  4. 09/29/2009lincoln001 says:

    I think that you should go with the Mail option. It is safer. And, it is more cost effective – due to deeper discounts offered at mail and less of a copay overall for you. . . .


  5. 07/18/2010Brendan Gates » Express Scripts says:

    […] fall Walgreens gave me the wrong drugs for a month. I’ve also consistently run into issues with them either not having my full […]

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