Last month was the busiest we’ve seen in a long time. It has been crazy. We saw people refilling and stocking up on months’ worth of medication they’re going to need.
Of course, we know some people are also buying drugs they don’t need. On March 19, Trump mentioned that a drug for malaria, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis might help COVID-19 symptoms if combined with [the antibiotic azithromycin], so those drugs have gone on major shortage. They’re almost impossible to find. Some people that are on the medication because of their rheumatoid arthritis aren’t able to get their necessary prescriptions filled.
And some doctors were calling those drugs in for themselves. The [Texas State Board of Pharmacy] recently wrote a rule that said you can only order more than a fourteen-day supply of the medications Trump touted if you’re a preexisting patient. And now when we get that scrip, we’ll call and verify what the prescription is being written for. We’ve had to tell some doctors they can’t have it. It’s awkward.
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To keep ourselves and our customers protected, we closed our front door and we’re only doing curbside delivery. We get the customers’ credit card information over the phone, so nobody’s touching anything. We’re trying to do everything remotely. Most scrips get called in electronically; fewer than 10 percent get a hard copy.
I’m more worried for my employees than myself. If I get sick, I get sick; I’d have to quarantine myself and clean, sanitize the building and have someone cover for me. But what about my staff? I know of a lot of pharmacies whose staffs are annoyed that their bosses have not really cared. Whether it’s not supplying them with sanitary stuff to clean or not allowing gloves and face masks.
If it were up to me, I’d require a drive-through. I don’t see why people are still going inside. CVS and Walgreens are open and people are going in there. That’s a vector for people to transmit disease.
Insurance companies finally allowed us to stop requiring signatures for prescriptions, due to the possibility of transmission, but working with them has been challenging. No pharmacy likes insurance companies; they suck.
And I’m also concerned about our finances, even though we’re busy. We get paid a certain amount for a drug, and insurance companies take 10 percent down the road, so a rush can cause cash flow issues. And there are loopholes where insurance companies can take money from us after we’ve filled a prescription, and sometimes it’s a significant amount of money. We might get shorted $5,000 or much more. Often, we’re filling prescriptions at a loss. It has been a problem for a long time, but now it’s exacerbated because we’re selling more prescriptions. “Busy” can mean you’re busy losing money.
We’re busting our asses down here, working twelve- and fifteen-hour days. I’m beat. It has taken a toll on me. We’re doing all this—delivering to patients and staying late hours to get this stuff ready for patients—and then we may find out we’re losing money because insurance companies are taking money back. That would be really frustrating.
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