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Rx Scams: Are pharmacies refusing to give you back your hard copy prescription?

Rainbow Girl's picture

PART I - On the wholly arbitrary nature of drug prices in the USA.
Same medicine, same number of pills, same generic. At the CVS-Equivalent Pharmacy: $138.00. At "HealthWarehouse.Com" (US online pharmacy): $28.94. Because Markets?!

PART II - On a possible scam being pulled by Pharmacies wherein they take ownership of an original prescription with refills to grab onto the rent stream of the refills and prevent you from shopping elsewhere.

Lady needs prescription. Has to pay $100 to primary care doc at local walk in clinic to get it (scam number one but that's "another" department of our American fu***ed up anti-health system).

Lady then heads over to the CVS-equivalent in the area to fill the RX (which has a few refills on it). Lady knows that through online pharmacy price for the RX will be significantly lower than CVS-equivalent, so tells pharmacist that she wants the RX filled but then wants the RX original paper returned to her so she can process refills through cheaper online pharmacy.

Pharmacist claims can't give back the original RX. "If you move somewhere else, have the pharmacy there call us." Lady: "No, I just want my prescription back so I can get the refills anywhere I want without having to go through the rigamarole of having "them call you" etc." Pharmacist: "It's the law - RX becomes property of Pharmacy." Lady: "Ok, so if I fill the RX now here, then you will transfer it to my United States (not Canadian or Mexican) online pharmacy?" Pharmacist: "No - we don't transfer to online pharmacies." Huhh??

Lady: "Since you scan everything into EMR, can't you just use the scanned copy for your records?" Pharmacist: "No. We have to keep hard copies for 15 years. [Huuu??]" Lady: "Can you tell me what law or regulation allows you to keep the prescription and not return it to me for future refills." Pharmacist - getting tense and nervous now: "No ... er .... " Lady: "Well, is it federal law or state law?" Pharmacist [now so tense her eyes are squinting]: "Er ... probably federal and state." Lady: "So you're giving me this clear "rule" and you don't even know who made it? Didn't any part of your training as a pharmacist give you that information?" Pharmacist [looking at her computer hoping Lady will just fade]: "No." Then she gives the Lady the price for the prescription -- $138 (with local discount!) Lady laughs out loud, says "No thank you, have a nice day," and waltzes outta there. Gets to a computer and finds that the price of the same exact RX at the online pharmacy (the American oh-so-legit one) is ... $28.94.

The RX is not a controlled substance or anything. Plus, wasn't "EMR" (Electronic Medical Records) -- "because technology and freedom"!! -- supposed to benefit "everyone" precisely in situations like this? Pharmacy gets to just store PDFs and not have to store a gazillion boxes of original RXs, etc.?

Lady is betting this is some scam where pharmacies grab a rent stream and hold on to it. Research to be completed on the subject soon. Answer probably lies with local Pharmacy Board.

Readers: any similar experiences or intel on the legality of pharmacies refusing to give you back your hard copy prescription if it has refills on it that you might want to (because market and educated consumers) get the refills elsewhere?

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Submitted by lambert on

... to make the information-sharing aspect of the post a little more evident.

That's a really great question and it would be good to have some answers to it!

paintedjaguar's picture
Submitted by paintedjaguar on

Also be careful if a physician wants to give you an "online" or "electronic" prescription rather than a hard copy. I had my first experience with this recently and realized too late that I had been locked into going to a pre-specified pharmacy and couldn't shop around for price.

Even with a hard copy, I've had pharmacists tell me that they couldn't quote me a price before filling the prescription -- because they had to enter "insurance information" which was ridiculous as I was paying entirely out-of-pocket. Our current medical system is nothing BUT scams, if you ask me.

Rainbow Girl's picture
Submitted by Rainbow Girl on

That's a cute one, refusing to give you the price before taking the RX - and then giving you a transparently b.s. reason (you've got no insurance, but they have to "enter insurance inforamtion.").

I'm totally out-of-pocket as well - you'd think that flying "naked," without insurance would at least give one the privilege of flying "free" of entangling attachments to Medico-Pharma Rent Seeking Parasites. But nooooo - the traps are woven into every nook and cranny of the delivery system.

Just like ObamaCare - sign up for the black box package of ... predatory pricing "design" that strips the "consumer" to the bone.

I'm collecting anecdotes like these, so more welcome.

I also think that contacting our states's Local Pharmacy Boards with complaints about these practices (with threats of going to the AG's consumer protection bureau) might yield some, er, interesting results. I think pharmacies just do this s*** because "then can" and they get away with it because we've turned into perfectly programmed compliers who never question anything!

Submitted by lambert on

That's a quote from Thomas Pychon's Gravity's Rainbow. IIRC, it refers to the SS guy who stood where the trains pulled up, and sent the "passengers" this way or that way, to the camp (Happyville) or the ovens (Pain City), with a flick of his hand.

Anyhow, it's random, luck of the draw. No map! That's what I hate.

mellon's picture
Submitted by mellon on

from Michael Moore's "Roger and Me"

or Blake

"The whore and gambler, by the state
Licensed, build that nation’s fate.
The harlot’s cry from street to street
Shall weave old England’s winding-sheet.
The winner’s shout, the loser’s curse,
Dance before dead England’s hearse.
Every night and every morn
Some to misery are born,
Every morn and every night
Some are born to sweet delight.
Some are born to sweet delight,
Some are born to endless night."