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In addition to fighting for her life, a patient fought with a careless, mandated pharmacy month-over-month on delays and technical errors.


Cathy was one of the fortunate ones; after seven and a half years, she was among the 22% of patients diagnosed with Stage IV cancer who had made it past five years. Unfortunately, Cathy’s survival was dependent upon the specialty pharmacy her PBM had mandated she use— despite the fact that her oncologist had an in-house pharmacy that she would prefer to use. The problem was that every month, Cathy had to engage in a battle with the PBM pharmacy just to obtain her oral chemo medication.

As an example, on October 12th, Cathy called the PBM specialty pharmacy to verify that they were planning to over–night the oral chemo medication to her, so she could stay on schedule. The PBM specialty pharmacy told her that her oncologist had not sent in the renewal subscription. Cathy then called the pharmacy manager at her oncologist’s office, who assured her that the prescription had indeed been faxed over one week earlier.

Had Cathy not called up the specialty pharmacy, she would never have received her medicine in time.

Trying to help Cathy out, the practice pharmacy manager then called up the PBM specialty pharmacy, who placed her on hold until they eventually located the script, which indeed had arrived a week before. “Why was the medicine not shipped? ” the pharmacy manager asked. “Data migration,” she was told; this meant that the PBM specialty pharmacy was in the middle of reorganizing its filing system, and had failed to take proper precautions to ensure that no patient care information was lost or misplaced along the way.

Had Cathy not called up the specialty pharmacy, she would never have received her medicine in time. Furthermore, the pharmacy manager at her oncologist’s office informed Cathy that while she had been talking with the PBM specialty pharmacy, another patient had called her with the exact same issue. Every month, without exception, Cathy has had difficulty getting the medicine shipped on time from the PBM specialty pharmacy. No matter what, whenever her oncologist calls it in, the PBM specialty pharmacy manages to misplace the order.

Customer satisfaction, integrity, and commitment are important qualities for any profession or field. Yet, they are even more crucial in those professions that deal directly with people’s lives. As PBM specialty pharmacies deal in products that have the potential to lengthen the time another person has on Earth, there must be a different standard to which their employees are held, and clearly indifference, apathy and carelessness should have no place.