In This Season Of Debates, I Present Pharmacy Showdown Number Two. It's CVS Vs. CVS.

Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the second in our series of pharmacy debates. You may remember last time we were here and discussed the impact of  drugstore chain/pharmacy benefits manager CVS Caremark upon the profession. Tonight, we'll go from the general to the specific as we address the topic "Does CVS enroll people in their 'readyfill' automatic prescription service without the patients consent?" We have two guests tonight, first off, CVS spokesman Mr. Mike DeAngelis.

"Rot in hell Drugmonkey. If you think a few weeks of unemployment are tough, you just wait until we're done with you"

Ha ha....he's quite a kidder that DeAngelis. Next up we have CVS Supervisor Ryan Barna. Mr. Barna oversees about 50 CVS stores in the New Jersey area.

"He's not kidding Drugmonkey, we're going to bury you"

Very well then, but first things first. Mr. DeAngelis, recent stories in the Los Angeles Times paint a picture of CVS customers systematically being enrolled in your automatic refill service without their consent. These are serious allegations, as this could, under some interpretations, be considered insurance fraud, as claims are being filed for medicines a patient never asked for. Both the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs and The California Board of Pharmacy have expressed concerns, and the LA Times articles imply that this might be happening as a result of pharmacists being pressured to meet a quota of program enrollment. We've flipped a coin backstage, and as a result you get to make the opening statement.

(Note, every statement below attributed to DeAngelis  and Barna come straight from the Times articles. Except for the final statement, which really happened in my imagination.) 

"It is not our policy to refill prescriptions without a patient's authorization"

Very well then. Mr. Barna, do you have a rebuttal?

"You need to go out and make this happen this week and every week going forward"

I see. You were, of course talking about a specific number, 30% of phone calls to patients that were expected to result in repeat business. It would seem that we have a clear distinction between the positions of the two of you then. Mr. Barna, if I could ask a followup question. What would happen if pharmacists did not meet this quota?

"Major personnel changes. Please understand this is not the road I wanted to go down, but action plans/phone calls/advice haven't yielded the result we're all looking for & it's time for a change in leadership in certain stores."

OK, but our topic is whether CVS ever filled prescriptions without a patient's authorization. Mr. Barna, if pharmacists called patients and could not reach them, what did you instruct them to do and say regarding those patient's prescriptions?

"We tried calling you several times this week on this past-due prescription" and that "I went ahead and filled it so it would be ready for you."


Mr. Deangelis, this seems pretty clear. Do you have a rebuttal?

the company says this is an example of an overzealous manager going too far, not a practice followed by CVS pharmacists nationwide.

Mr. Barna, you called the procedure you outlined to the pharmacists you supervised...what was the term? CVS.....

"best practices."

Yes, best practices. And I will point out here that the Times articles point out incidents of unauthorized prescriptions being filled in both New Jersey and California. Mr. DeAngelis, is it possible for one overzealous manager in New Jersey to affect your operations in stores located on the other side of the country?

"It is not our policy to refill prescriptions without a patient's authorization,"

Yes....I seem to remember hearing that somewhere before. And with that ladies and gentlemen we've reached the end of tonight's debate. Mr. Barna, since Mr. DeAngelis got to make the opening statement, we'll give you the final word.

"Thank you. As spirited, and at times heated, as tonight's debate was, I'd like to point out that my opponent and I actually have a great deal we agree on. We are both working for a strong and profitable CVS, and share a desire to make the company the best it can be. More importantly though, we share a bigger goal. Your immediate and total destruction Drugmonkey. Mr DeAngelis and I could not hate you more, and wish nothing but for you to be erased from this very planet, preferably in a painful way. Short of that, we would like to make it possible that both you and the LA Times shut the fuck up."

And on that note of agreement, we close this night's debate. Tune in next time, when our topic will be "A share or Rite Aid stock or a Diet Coke, which is the better value for your dollar and a half?" Until then, have a wonderful evening.

(Special thanks to the multiple alert readers who tipped me to this story)
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In This Season Of Debates, I Present Pharmacy Showdown Number Two. It's CVS Vs. CVS.
In This Season Of Debates, I Present Pharmacy Showdown Number Two. It's CVS Vs. CVS.
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