Wednesday, October 3, 2012

An Open Letter to CVS Caremark

To Whom It May Concern -
The other day, I called my pharmacy to have my sons prescription drugs refilled. He uses these medications daily to keep him healthy, as he has Cystic Fibrosis. I explained to the customer service representative that we were requesting a refill a few days early as we are leaving for vacation on Saturday morning. To be clear, my prescriptions should be available to refill on Thursday - I called on Tuesday requesting the order be processed two days early. I was informed that only 4 of my 5 medications could be refilled because you weren't allowing an early refill override on one of his drugs. It's Pulmicort - an inhaled corticosteroid steroid that helps to relieve inflammation in my sons airways. It's not a narcotic and not a drug we are requesting early because we are abusing medication. We will run out before we return home from our vacation.
You may be wondering why we are having our prescriptions filled at another pharmacy. Great question! Let me preface this all by telling you a little bit about myself. I am the mother of 4 small children (oldest is 4, youngest is 6mo, two in the middle). I have a bachelors degree in marketing and had a great job until I decided to stay home and raise our family. On top of raising our family, I chair the Quality Improvement Team at the CF clinic at Cincinnati Children's Hospital. I work in the NIUC as a parent TOUCH volunteer twice a month. I am the State Advocacy Chair for the Cincinnati Chapter of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, meeting with Senators and Congresspeople to share the policy agenda of the Foundation. I don't have time for this bullshit.
There are several reasons that we don't get our prescriptions filled through CVS Caremark pharmacy. First and foremost, we have a secondary insurance - Ohio Bureau for Children with Medical Handicaps (BCMH). They cover the co-pays and whatever else you do not cover. They will only allow for a 30 day supply of my sons medications at a time. You require that we get a 90-day supply. When filled through your pharmacy, I am left to pay to co-pay. A co-pay is a small fee when you have a healthy child who may need an antibiotic or something once in a while. When you have a child who is on 7 medications daily, when he is healthy, the co-pays on all of his medications add up to several hundred dollars a month. To work around this dilemma, I spent hours (no, I'm not exaggerating in the least) on the phone with your company working to get overrides allowing us to have his prescriptions filled at the CF Services Pharmacy where they will provide a 30-day supply free of all charges. These overrides, despite my best efforts, aren't permanent. I do this annually. And this year, although I fought the good fight, I ran out of time and energy and was left filling the prescriptions for two of his drugs through you. Small co-pays, but the real inconvenience is having to manage re-ordering his drugs from two different places - more trouble than you can imagine. I am always on the phone longer that I should be when reordering. You ask the same questions every time when I feel you should already have some of that information. You require signature on delivery for his medication, yet tell me that they will be delivered between 9am and 7pm. In case you missed it above, I have a very busy life and this system is not working for me. Yet I am at your mercy. I am the patient. Without my medical needs you would not be in business. We should be working together.
I understand that you have policies and procedures in place, but there is a fundamental flaw when a program designed to help sick patients is causing more stress than anything. My children are frustrated with the time I spend on the phone between pharmacies and doctors transferring and writing new prescriptions and explaining 9,000 times why we need to do this. How about collaboration? How about sitting down and talking with some patients or parents about what a good system looks like, how we can make this work for all of us? How about thinking about the patient first?
It is stressful enough having a child. Multiply that by 4. Add a life shortening genetic disease. I don't need this extra, unnecessary nonsense. I would love to sit down and talk with you. I would love to understand why your processes work they way that they do and offer my thoughts and suggestions for how to make it better. At the end of the day, the most important thing to me is the well-being of my family. Help me to make providing that a little less painful.
Kind Regards-
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


  1. What a nightmare. I really feel your frustration. I get all medications from the hospital pharmacy when I go in for clinic visits, and although they frequently take 45 minutes or more to fill the prescription, they do always have them there for me. However, I ran out of two medications recently in between visits and we had to get them from the hospital; we couldn't just go to our local pharmacy as they will only give very limited amounts of the antibiotic Victor is on and will not make up his salt supplement at all. Luckily my husband could drive to the hospital and pick the medicines up for me. They don't seem to understand what a huge impact this can have on your life.

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