Pharmacy Frustration



I recently went to pick up a prescription for myself at Giant Pharmacy.  I use this pharmacy because it’s close by and a lot of times when I am picking up a prescription there are other things I need too:  gluten free foods, grocery essentials, over-the-counter medication, etc.  Giant has a good gluten free selection whereas the drugstores do not.

Tech: Do you have any allergies?
Me: I have a sensitivity to gluten, but that should already be on file.
She said she would check.
Me: Doesn’t something “pop up” on the computer when you’re filling my prescription?
Tech: You would think that it would, but it doesn’t.
Excuse me, what?!

We continued to chat while the pharmacist looked in the fine print to see if my prescription had gluten. Then he ended up calling the company because he couldn’t verify it from the literature.  Keep in mind all of this is happening while my very energetic 4 year old son is plotting to destroy the store. (I kid, I kid!)  Silly me, I thought I was going to come and pick up my prescription and a loaf of bread and be on my merry way.

So FINALLY the pharmacist came back with a verdict: Sorry this medication has gluten it.
Me: So now what do I do?
Pharmacist: You have to call around to different pharmacies and ask them if they carry this drug without gluten.
Cool. Because I have time for that.

This is so wrong on so many levels:
1-Had the tech not asked me if I had an allergy I would have left with my gluten-containing medicine and been none the wiser because I wrongly ASSUMED that they knew/it was on my file that I can’t have gluten.
2-Why on EARTH would their system not flag me/other people as having an allergy/sensitivity so they can check into whether medications are safe.  Major flaw if you ask me.
3-Why are drug companies still making gluten/allergy information so elusive that you have to jump through hoops to figure out if it’s safe for you or not?

I wanted to know the best and safest way to fill a prescription next time.
Me: How can I prevent getting gluten-containing medicine in the future?
Pharmacist: Either tell the Dr. to write gluten free in the notes on the script or you have to call and let the pharmacy know so they can research it ahead of time.

Since everything is sent electronically anymore this basically means I’m going to have to call because after all of this I’m not sure I can trust that even if I tell my Dr. to write it he/she will remember to do so.

Moral of the story: be your own advocate!! Never assume that the medication you are getting is gluten free, even if your file is marked as such.  Thankfully I am not routinely on prescription medicine and this was not a medication I need urgently.

Update: I called all of my local pharmacies and spent an hour on the phone only to find out that NONE of them carry my medicine in a gluten free form.  I had to call my dermatologist and get a different medicine.  When I went to pick it up I found out it was $40 more than what the original medicine would have cost me. #glutenfreeproblems

Has something similar happened to you?  What pharmacy do you use?



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