To Whom it May Concern -
I am writing to complain about unauthorized altering of a prescription by one of your pharmacists at CVS #XXXX. I presented the pharmacist with a valid prescription written by my doctor for 3 vials of insulin per month, with three refills. This is a dose I have been taking for years and filling without issue at a non-chain local pharmacy. My insurance company has never had any problem with this amount.
Last month, when I brought the new prescription to CVS, the pharmacist at first only gave me a single bottle of insulin. When I told her it was supposed to be three bottles, she said she needed to know how much insulin I took per day. I told her that the amount varied greatly because I was on an insulin pump and had a variety of issues affecting my insulin sensitivity on a day to day basis (as do many people with diabetes).
She said she needed to calculate what a thirty day supply of insulin would be. I replied that a thirty day supply was what my doctor had written the prescription for - three bottles. The pharmacist replied that she needed a number. So I told her it could go as high as seventy units per day.
She said 70 units times thirty days would be 2100 units, and rounded down to two bottles (2000 units total). I was in a hurry and needed to leave, so I agreed to the two bottles and was able to leave with my partial prescription.
There were a few problems with her calculation. First, it assumes I can get every unit of insulin out of the bottle with no waste. This is physically impossible. Second, it does not take into account that I use an insulin pump with 43 inches of tubing. This tubing must be primed (filled with insulin) every two days when I change my infusion site. It takes a minimum of 21 units of insulin to prime the tubing, insulin that is discarded when the site is changed. Third, it does not take into account that the very nature of diabetes is change. A huge variety of factors can cause your blood sugar to rise, and very few of them are within a patient’s control. Infusion sets get accidentally torn out, hormone levels change, other chronic conditions interfere with insulin sensitivity. Three bottles was the amount determined by me and my physician to keep me healthy.
What I actually should have said was on a typical site change I load the pump with 150-175 units of insulin, and change it every two days, but I was thinking “dose” not “priming plus dosage”. This comes out to be about 2500 units of insulin - clearly more than two bottles.
Also, I was not expecting to have to justify my doctors written directions. Do patients with infections have to argue that 250mg of penicillin should be enough if the doctor had prescribed 300mg, or do I need to worry that this pharmacist will suggest that I only need to take Synthroid for six days a week?
Since I still had a partial bottle at the time I filled the prescription, I was able to get through the month and figured I would explain as I picked up my refill that she had miscalculated the amount I would need. That ran into a few snags. First, my phone refill was not ready on the day I stopped for it. They said it would be in by the next day so I agreed to come back then. On the following day, a violent thunderstorm had knocked out the store’s power shortly before I arrived; the pharmacy’s computer was still running on back up power and I had cash to pay for the prescription so I thought I would be in the clear.
Once again, I was given a single bottle. Apparently, while modifying my prescription to fit her idea of my doctors directions, the pharmacist wiped out all my refills; instead of nine bottles doled out stingily two at a time; only one bottle was left on my record. After several minutes of arguing I was able to leave with my single bottle - no charge. Of course it should be no charge, it was part of the incomplete original thirty day prescription. I agreed to return again when the computers were up to try and straighten out the issue.
This mix up would not have occurred if my prescription was filled as written, and I would like your assurance that in the future your employees will not attempt to second-guess my physician.
I am not a junkie; I am not selling extra insulin on eBay or sharing it with my friends so they can experience the joys of a life-threatening insulin reaction. I simply think that your pharmacist should not be determining my quality of life, simply because she suspects I might be trying to cheat my health insurance company - a company that has never once complained about the amount of insulin or test strips I use per month.
I am sending copies of this letter to the local CVS pharmacy, the CVS customer service, my doctor, and my health insurance company.
(...And of course posting it on my blog to be read by diabetics everywhere)