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Sarah Hyland Calling Out CVS Highlights an Issue No Customer Should Have to Deal With

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When you live with a chronic illness, taking prescription medication can be an important way to treat and manage your illness. But if you can’t get your potentially life-saving medication when you need it, frustration, panic, stress and unnecessary pain and symptoms can occur. That’s why it is essential pharmacies ensure they dispense medications in a timely manner.

“Modern Family” actress Sarah Hyland, who has kidney dysplasia and underwent a kidney transplant in 2012, tweeted on Tuesday that CVS Pharmacy failed to fill a prescription her doctors called in twice that day.

Hyland followed her post with another tweet to CVS about listing incorrect business hours online. “Maybe put the correct time you close on the internet,” she wrote. “Just a suggestion from a longtime customer who needs medication for the rest of her life.”

Hyland isn’t alone in her struggle to obtain prescriptions from her pharmacy. Other Twitter users relayed similar frustrations.

Many Twitter followers urged Hyland to get her prescription transferred to another pharmacy, use a different chain altogether, wait at the pharmacy for the medication and to simply stop complaining because of her celebrity status. While those suggestions sound reasonable, as someone with a chronic condition, I can attest that getting pharmacies to fill your prescriptions in a timely manner is not always that simple.

I’ve tried to obtain daily maintenance medication that keeps my endocrine system functioning, and the entire process has been a nightmare. My insurance won’t let me use a mail order pharmacy because of the type of medication it is. I’ve had doctors repeatedly call pharmacies while pharmacies fail to call my doctor back, don’t contact my insurance or disregard my insurance policies. So I sit –and by sit I mean continue to call my insurance company, doctors and pharmacy — and wait days for medication I desperately need. And while I wait, I experience the side-effects of my body beginning to shut down.

Hyland noted that she gets her maintenance medication through delivery, but revealed that the medication she needed was an antibiotic meant to treat an infection that had developed over the weekend, and the soonest she could get in to see her doctors and get testing done was Monday. She said, “if that infection is not treated soon, it would turn into pyelonephritis, which would send my kidney into rejection.”

Skipping or missing doses of prescribed meds — whether it’s for an infection or a life-threatening condition — has consequences. Nonadherence, or not taking medication as prescribed, causes approximately 125,000 deaths and at least 10 percent of hospitalizations per year, according to a review in the Annals of Internal Medicine. When medication is difficult to obtain, adherence becomes even more of a challenge.

Bruce Bender, co-director of the Center for Health Promotion at National Jewish Health in Denver, told the New York Times, “When people don’t take the medications prescribed for them, emergency department visits and hospitalizations increase and more people die.” He continued to explain that, “Nonadherence is a huge problem, and there’s no one solution because there are many different reasons why it happens.”

There are many reasons people fail to take their medications. A pharmacy messing up shouldn’t be one of them.

As a fellow longtime pharmacy customer who, like Hyland, needs medication for the rest of her life, I have a message for pharmacies:

Having medication on time is crucial, and your business practices and policies often make managing and treating chronic illness more difficult.

I am grateful for modern medicine and the countless lives it saves, and I understand that pharmacies are businesses with real people working behind the counter who have lives that are probably just as chaotic as ours. But pharmacies need to be held accountable when they are being inefficient or create policies that prevent people from getting the medications they need. 

If you want to make life better for people living with chronic conditions, start by making your pharmacies as accessible as possible. It shouldn’t take a celebrity calling out a pharmacy on social media to start this conversation.

Lead images via Sarah Hyland Twitter

Originally published: December 21, 2017
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