Vicodin Police

14 Jan

Being a ‘Vicodin Police’ (which should be referred as VP from this point forward) is one of the duties of a pharmacist and technicians. Turns out many people are in pain: whether it is a legitimate pain, a perceived pain, pain for the pharmacy staff, a psychotic pain, a tooth pain or whatever pain.

Now, I have been in pain myself, and at that point drugs were a God-send. Ability to decrease suffering of the human kind is a sign of progress for humanity. But then why do we in the pharmacy biz want to hang a sign in the drive-through window that says, “Do you want Vicodin with that?” (please refer to previous post about McDonalds.) Do all these people really have pain? Are doctors just handing this stuff out like candy? While it stands to reason that pharmacy is the gathering place for the sick and the hurting, the diabetic and the hypertensive, the rude and the kind, you probably won’t be able to find a pharmacist that will not tell you that prescriptions for narcotics shoot through the roof on Fridays. (Insert Rebecca Black joke here…)

I often joke with my staff that we need an extra floater pharmacist on Fridays just to stand next to the C-II cabinet with the keys ready to go, to make sure we have all the drugs in stock before we agree to fill said prescriptions.

Being a VP is a job in itself, there are many times when you have to monitor Vicodin usage, control inventory (we better not run out!), answer phone calls about calling the doctor’s office again for refills on Vicodin. And of course, fill those prescriptions; check dates; check a state wide database if there are suspicions, etc.

It is not as easy to fool a pharmacist as most people think. Many of us have a ‘gut instinct’ that late-night TV psychics fantasize about during the day. We hear dozens of stories every week and believe extremely few of them.

Since I have decided to write this blog to help people get the best value from their pharmacy (thus making the lives of pharmacists everywhere more fullfilling, because most of us really do want to HELP people) I am going to list things to do if you are in a legitimately prescriptive amount of pain and need pain relief to function in society.

Do:

-Call a few days in advance (2-3 days, any sooner than that and the ‘bullshit meter’ starts to go off).

-Be polite, but don’t flatter staff in the same sentence as you ask for an early refill.

-If we have to call the  office for a refill, please call them one time yourself, and leave the pharmacy alone for the rest of that day.

-Use one pharmacy for all your needs, or one chain if at all possible.

-Tell the pharmacists at that location why you are on pain medication, and be honest. They will not judge  and will certainly appreciate your trust.

-Please plan ahead. If you are going on vacation, let us know (unemployed, on state aid, and 6th vacation this year alone need not apply).

Don’t:

-Pharmacy and doctor hop.

-Lie.

-Call for the 5th time today to see if your vicodin et al, has been approved.

-Tell me you are not a pill-popper; I know one when I see one.

-Lose your teeth to meth.

-Throw a fit; pharmacists have very good memory. I repeat VERY GOOD memory (it is a job requirement). Technicians do too.

-Tell me you will be in a cabin in Wisconsin and need your Vicodin early, then chat with me for 5 (!) minutes about how you are not an addict, because I still will call your doctor’s office for authorization. Yes, the office with which you signed a PAIN CONTRACT.

-If you are in an above mentioned story, don’t go to my competitor across town to ask to transfer ‘EVERYTHING!’ after you got your early fill and are still supposed to be in Wisconsin. No, I am not making this up.

-Don’t fly to Japan either to help with the tsunami, or New Orleans, or WHICHEVER part of the world is experiencing a natural disaster. Because after hopping all over my chain’s district when you are supposed to be ‘helping’ overseas, we start to catch on.

-Don’t let your children, pets, guests, birds, etc. play with your drugs and somehow always throw them away, or in to the toilet, or sink, or garbage disposal.

-Don’t leave your drugs ‘unattended’ in hotel rooms (it’s alway the cleaning people!), airport security (I know those pesky TSA agents will want to steal it every time, and on camera too, what nerve!) or in your car.

-When confronted with altered Percocet prescription, please don’t tell us it was your 4-year old! Especially when you tried to bring altered ones in the past. Maybe your 4-year old is the next Da Vinci, or an acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree, or we have a VERY GOOD memory!

In conclusion:

-Pharmacy is a small world. You would be shocked to find out how often we talk to each other; how many of us are related; went to school together; worked together in the past; married to each other, or to nurses, or to doctors; drank together; or talked about work.

-If you are in pain, we are here to help you. I you are scamming the system to get narcotics, we are onto you, see the point about VERY GOOD MEMORY above.

Stay Pain Free, my friends.

Yours truly, VP officer.

Spirit of Icarus

9 Jan

Woman comes up to the counter and asked for “Spirit of Icarus”. She was looking for Syrup of Ipecac; however, we had neither: no syrup nor spirits of mythical creatures. Better luck next time!

spirit of icarus - ramblings of a pharmacist

It looks like McDonalds, but it is not.

9 Jan

Let me say that I like McDonalds’ food, I like the fries, the mcrib, the snack wraps and many other delicious things they serve. I do my almost best to eat healthy, yet once in a while, there is a mcrib with my name on it and no sound reason will change that. And so I pull up in the drive through and do my best to yell my order to the screen and hope that they will get the chicken nuggets sauce right, along with the mcrib. I have easy access to about 3 of these establishments and there is a ranking list based on speed and accuracy. The fastest one is not the most accurate, the most accurate has longer wait, and lastly the least accurate and by far the dirtiest, the slowest one I have ever been is in the perfect location on my daily commute! I swore multiple times to never come back, but location is important after all, so I take my chances.

not served in the pharmacy

If you frequent a pharmacy as a consumer, you can relate to the experience above.  You might even think that most community pharmacist are trying to copy the McDonalds, after all there is a drive-through window, you place your order, pay, and get a paper bag, all in under 15 minutes. Easy, breezy, beautiful..

Only if McDonalds’ girl put barbecue sauce instead of honey mustard in your bag, no big deal, provided you like barbecue flavor. But if a pharmacist puts a ‘heart’ pill instead of your ‘thyroid’ or ‘diabetes’ pill in your bag, it is a BIG DEAL. It’s a big deal to you and to said pharmacist. You could be seriously harmed and they could end up fighting for their license before the Pharmacy Board.

So you see now? The set up is similar, but the nature of the business is entirely different. I know what mcrib looks and tastes like, but do you know what amitriptyline and phenazopyridine look or taste like? Or what exactly do they do your body?

So choose your pharmacist wisely!  I have been in community pharmacy for many years now and I am here to teach you how to get the best care and attention your needs require in a world where ‘putting pills in the bottle’ business is not what it seems.

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