Message from the VPA Board of Directors

02/11/2024 16:08 | Anonymous

By now you will be aware that the Vermont Board of Pharmacy has settled their suit with Walgreens for $275,000. The suit alleged that Walgreens had endangered the public health by failing to adequately staff their pharmacies to provide safe care and failing to follow rules around unplanned closings, forcing patients to travel miles out of their way to obtain necessary medications only to find that Walgreens had already adjudicated them and could not reverse the claims, thereby forcing patients to pay cash or go without. This also affected the nearby pharmacies who tried to help these patients. It was a frustrating and dangerous experience for all concerned. Thank you to the numerous complainants, both patients and pharmacists, who reported their concerns to the Board of Pharmacy. We are similarly grateful to the Office of Professional Regulation for recognizing that workplace conditions for pharmacy staff are a matter of patient safety and that pharmacy operators are responsible for ensuring there are adequate resources to provide safe care.

After much discussion, with Walgreens denying any wrongdoing, the state and Walgreens reached an agreement where Walgreens would institute several remediation policies, such as adhering to existing rules around timely notice of closures, hiring more pharmacists and support staff to avoid closures, and providing training on how to deal with adjudicating electronic prescriptions and reversal of claims.

We recognize that many people may have mixed feelings on the outcome of this settlement. We can celebrate that this was the largest fine ever levied by the Vermont Board of Pharmacy, representing the extent of the need for change, and that no other state has had such a far-reaching investigation into workplace conditions in a large chain pharmacy. At the same time, we also know that $13,750 per store is just a drop in the bucket for a company this large, even with similar charges being recently settled in nearby states. We are hopeful that nevertheless these fines represent the gravity with which Vermonters regard our community pharmacy practice and act as a deterrent to future negligent behavior. We are additionally hopeful that the settlement is entered into in good faith with a true desire effect necessary change to protect the health and wellbeing of pharmacy staff and patients alike.

The VPA stands with all Vermont pharmacy staff, especially those working without a strong voice or necessary support. We will be diligent about making sure that Walgreens lives up to the promises they made to their staff and their patients as a part of this agreement.

To that end, we would like to note that any complaints on conduct after January 24, 2024 will be considered “new” and subject to investigation, much like the one made in this particular case. If you have any concerns about the working conditions of a pharmacy in Vermont, these should be reported to . The health and welfare of our patients is our primary concern and any situation that endangers that (understaffing, improper billing practices, unrealistic metrics, corporate harassment, and other dangerous working conditions) requires that we honor our oath to protect our patients, and report to the Board of Pharmacy.

Thank you,

Vermont Pharmacists Association Board of Directors

Melanie McAtee, PharmD, President

Sandra Rosa, BS, RPh, Vice President

Kenneth Kausch, PharmD, Secretary

Caroline Kirkpatrick, PharmD, Treasurer

Martin Irons, BS, RPh, CDCES, Member at Large

Lauren Bode, PharmD, CDCES, Executive Director

"Vermont Pharmacists Association" is a 501(c)6 non-profit organization. 

Vermont Pharmacists Association 2019.

P.O. Box 267, St. Albans, VT, 05478

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