Klein releases pharmacy report

This Rite-Aid location at 3590 E. Tremont Avenue (above) is listed in a report issued by Senator Jeff Klein as violating state law for failing to have a pharmacist supervising the pharmacy at all times. Klein says it is part of a disturbing trend in retail pharmacy. - Photo by Walter Pofeldt

One local elected official is warning residents that they should be more careful when they go to their local pharmacy, including one local Rite Aid location.   

Senator Jeff Klein has teamed with state agencies and advocacy groups to call for greater accountability of chain pharmacy locations many feel are making more than their fair share of dispensing errors, causing everything from needless hassle to possible injury.

In a lengthy report, “RX: Take With Food, Water and Caution: How Prescription Drug Dispensing Errors Threaten the Health of New Yorkers,” Klein spelled out what he sees as a growing problem in chain drug stores around the state.

The report named one Throggs Neck pharmacy, a Rite Aid at 3590 E. Tremont Avenue, as having disciplinary action taken against it the New York State Office of the Professions, the regulatory agency for pharmacists.

“I can tell you that Rite Aid has a very strong safety record. We have a 7-point prescription accuracy checklist,” said Cheryl Slavanski, director of public relations for Rite Aid. “We encourage all of our customers to check their prescriptions for accuracy.”

According to Klein’s report, the pharmacy “admitted to the charge of having failed to have a licensed pharmacist having personal supervision of the pharmacy.”

Klein’s report indicated the existence of a growing problem where assistants to pharmacists are dispensing prescriptions due to cost saving measures many chains put in place.

“In a pharmacist’s work, there can be no room for error,” Klein said. “One small type-o can seriously conflict with a patient’s care or even cause death.”

“Senator Klein is to be commended for focusing attention on errors in filling prescriptions in retail pharmacies. Patients walk away from their doctors office with one or more prescriptions on an average of two out of every three visits,” noted Arthur Levin, director of the Center for Medical Consumers, a consumer advocacy group.

Seniors whose primary pharmacy was a chain drug store received the wrong medication at more than four times the rate of those getting prescriptions filled at independent pharmacies, according to the study.

The report notes the allowable ratio of assistants to pharmacists in retail stores has doubled.

Klein is planning on introducing legislation requiring all pharmacies to prominently display information on how consumers can file a complaint about pharmacy-related practices with the Office of Professions.

“Senator Klein’s report offers an accurate diagnosis of a serious, and all too often, fatal flaw in health care – the suffering caused by prescription errors,” said Tracy Shelton, a staff attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Rite Aid did not officially comment on the matter when called for a statement. 

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