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    Rite Aid offers 15-minute Rx guarantee


    Rite Aid is promising to fill prescriptions in 15 minutes or less. If a fill takes more than 15 minutes, the patient gets a $5 gift card. Company spokeswoman Ashley Flower said the offer is attracting solid consumer reaction. Professional reaction is less supportive.

    "It lasted all of 2 days in New York," said Selig Corman, director of professional affairs for the Pharmaceutical Society of the State of New York. "The Board of Pharmacy heard about it and promptly told Rite Aid it was not acceptable. Rite Aid pharmacists were quite upset at the offer. That is the kind of pressure that leads to prescription errors. It's a dangerous policy."

    Flower said the guarantee is designed to avoid pressuring pharmacists. The 15-minute window starts after a script has been logged in and applies only to standard products that are in stock and do not require special attention. Scripts that require special handling, calls to the prescriber, extra attention for adjudication, or other professional services do not qualify. Counseling is also excluded from the 15-minute limit.

    Almost every chain has tried Rx fill time guarantees or promises at one time or another, said Mike Cohen, president of the Institute for Safe Medication Practices. In some cases, state pharmacy boards squelch the program. More often, chains launch a time guarantee to great fanfare and quietly abandon it when they discover that rushing scripts is bad medicine and bad business.

    "It is utterly unprofessional," he told Drug Topics. "It's unacceptable to hold pharmacists to an unrealistic time frame when they are working with medications. Such claims should help identify pharmacies that prescribers and patients may want to avoid. New York is doing the right thing. State boards can regulate this."

    Drug Topics board member Phil Burgess, who chairs the Illinois State Board of Pharmacy, agreed. "They are going to run into some major pushback from Boards of Pharmacy," he predicted. "This is 180 degrees away from everything we are trying to do in moving the pharmacy profession toward being patient information-focused rather than product-focused. And it's counter to our many efforts to improve patient safety."

    Fred Gebhart, Contributing Editor
    Contributing Editor Fred Gebhart works all over the world as a freelance writer and editor, but his home base is in San Francisco.

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