I thought I would share with you the exact letter I wrote last night with the intentions of sending it to my state’s Board of Pharmacy. The subject of my letter to them is my concerns over the use of incentives by pharmacies for the specific purpose of attracting new customers by encouraging them to transfer prescriptions from other pharmacies.
I have long disliked the practice of transfer coupons or other incentives for several reasons. I think the constant transferring of a prescription from pharmacy to pharmacy resulting from these promotions is burdensome and creates the potential for errors. Here is the draft of the letter I will send to my state’s board of pharmacy regarding my concerns. Feel free to comment on what you think of this letter or the concepts behind my argument against transfer incentives of any kind. This is the draft I wrote last night word for word in italics which I intent to send to my BOP:
Dear BOP Members,
I write to you today as a concerned licensed pharmacist working in this state. I am a community pharmacist currently working for a grocery store chain. My employer along with many others operating retail pharmacies in this state have made the decision to use various incentive promotions in the attempt to attract new pharmacy customers. Those incentives involve rewarding customers with some kind of monetary gift (typically a gift card) for transferring a prescription to that individual pharmacy. I feel this practice is dangerous, reckless, and not in the best interests of public health.
Those incentives create the environment where pharmacists are burdened with excessive amounts of prescription transfer processing. Patients are being encouraged to jump from pharmacy to pharmacy simply in the attempt to catch the latest promotion offered by competing drug stores. The potential for error in constantly transmitting this prescription information from one pharmacy to another is very real. I feel that these transfer coupons and other promotions are hindering our ability as pharmacists to provide optimal patient care.
I recently spent a Saturday shift at work taking phone call after phone call from other pharmacies requesting prescription transfers. During one nine hour shift I gave out at least a dozen prescription transfers. And every single prescription that was transferred out had recently been transferred into our pharmacy from another drug store. It is a revolving door of transferring prescriptions in one month and out the next as patients are chasing deals. Patients would be better served by maintaining all of their prescriptions at one location so their pharmacist has access to that patient’s entire prescription profile when filling a new prescription or recommending an over the counter treatment option.
I would like to urge the board members to consider a new rule or regulation prohibiting prescription transfer incentives or any other reward intented to encourage customers to transfer prescriptions between pharmacies. We should end this dangerous practice of pharmacy hopping by customers in the name of safety. Lets be proactive in this state and not wait for the potentially severe dispensing error that inevitably will occur if patients continually transfer prescriptions from one pharmacy to another on a routine basis.
Other states have already taken action to prevent these multiple transfers. Look at the State of Ohio for an example of a recent rules change that was put in place specifically to stop multiple prescription transfers. That state now limits prescription transfers to one per year per prescription. While I don’t agree with that solution and would favor a ban on the incentives instead I did want to highlight Ohio as an example of another state that took action. Our state should come up with some regulation that would be beneficial for both practicing pharmacists and patients. Safety should be priority one!
I hope you take my concerns to heart. I think having an open forum or questionnaire on the subject of transfer incentives would be an eye opener for the board. There is a real potential for errors related to all of this prescription movement. Fell free to contact me with and questions, concerns, or comments related to this letter. Thank you for your time.
The Redheaded Pharmacist
That is it! It isn’t the most eloquent piece of prose ever written but I think I made my point. And that story about the Saturday shift was true. It actually just happened this past Saturday. And all of those transfers were prescriptions we had recently transferred in from another pharmacy. In fact, in many cases the very pharmacy we had called last month to get an individual prescription was the same pharmacy calling back this month to transfer the same prescription away from our store!
What do you think? Is this a letter I should send to my BOP? I’ve never sent a letter to my state’s BOP like this but I feel they need to be aware of this issue! Do I have a real point or was this letter a simple byproduct of a frustrated pharmacist after a long Saturday shift on the phone with several pharmacies giving out prescription transfers? I’d like some feedback from you.
The Redheaded Pharmacist