Saturday, March 19, 2011

$upermarket pharmacie$ - ma$ter manipulator$

You know how everyone says that police have a 'quota' of tickets that they are required to write each month? The existence of this quota has never been confirmed officially, and has probably been denied, but it is part of the law and order lore that persists from decade to decade.

Well, I'm beginning to believe that supermarket pharmacies have the same kind of never-confirmed, but clearly real agreement with the supermarkets. They are seemingly obliged to tell each customer that it will take a half hour to fill their prescription, regardless if it's a simple tube of pre-packaged cream, or a duffle bag full of oxy.  

You can walk into a pharmacy at the moment it opens in the morning, and they will tell you it won't be ready for a half hour. Guaranteed. Like pizza delivery. I would LOVE to know what they do in that half hour. Their whole 'thing' is to get the prescription shoppers to buy stuff in the supermarket, stuff they had no intention of buying when they walked in. Now, though, they have a half hour to kill, so they end up spending money, much to the delight of Dominion!

I had to pick up a tube of cream for my Dad today. She held it up in front of me. I said, "Can I pay for that now?" She said, "No, it'll be a half hour." I said, "Sure, you've got it right there, why can't I pay for it now?" She replied, "Because we have to label it, and there are a lot of other people ahead of you." There was not another soul within 30 feet of us. Not a soul. It was the same as having to wait 30 minutes to buy a tube of toothpaste, only it was behind the counter and I had to ask for it.

They'll tell you some malarky like, "We have to check for interactions or contraindications". Baloney they do. The computers do it all. Plug in someone's name, and it will tell you everything you need / want to know, including red flashing indications if there actually IS a problem. The computer even spews out all the information about the medication. Do you think the pharmacist types up all that? No, not quite. There is not one thought process required in dispensing a tube of ointment, other than "What button do I push to print that label?"

My brother is of the opinion that pharmacists can easily be replaced with machines similar to Pepsi dispensing machines. I believe that in a lot of cases, he's absolutely right. I believe there are areas, in hospitals, where pharmacists are, pardon the pun, indispensible, but in your average supermarket? Set up a system whereby the machine reads the prescription, you feed it in, and have it chuck out the proper pills. How hard could that be? If there is a contraindication, it will spit out a note to you to see your GP.

My sister stands (or, should I say, "sits") on her constitutional right to just wait there, staring at the pharmacist for the 30 minutes, making it clear that their desire to inspire unnecessary shopping is not going to work on her. It usually cuts down the waiting time to 15 minutes. I've done the same thing, too. If I don't have to buy something when I go into the drug store, I'm not going shopping just to line the pockets of the very people who have coerced me into this situation.

My Dad deals with Justa Pharmacy in the Nfld Drive Family Practice building on Nfld Drive. It's literally just a pharmacy. The whole customer area is about 8 square feet. Never has the pharmacist there ever said, "This will take a half hour." He takes the prescription, fills it, labels it, hands it over and gets paid. Then he goes to the next customer. That's exactly what most people who need prescriptions want - not to be hoodwinked into spending money in the underhanded fashion some supermarkets and huge drug store chains employ. Shame on them.


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