Calling All Pharmacists

This is a question for all of you pharmacists reading this blog. Why are pharmacies sending AUTOMATIC renewal faxes to medical offices? I see this on drugs that I stopped on patients years ago! I just got a renewal fax for a prednisone burst that I gave someone months ago for gout.

This may not be labor intensive as I am sure all these requests are computer generated but isn’t this causing confusion for patients? Who started this initiative? It is ludicrous and unethical. The fact that you can just fool docs, who will sign off on anything because they are overwhelmed, is only a sign of how terrible our system has become.

Are there any pharmacists out there that are involved with this? How is this effecting you? You must have a ton of unused prescriptions.

Are there any other doctors out there getting these “fake” prescriptions?

Join 3,552 other subscribers

Get our awesome newsletter by signing up here. We don’t give your email out and we won’t spam you

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  10 comments for “Calling All Pharmacists

  1. arf
    February 2, 2020 at 2:56 am

    YES, I get them too, and I’m sick and tired of them.

    I’m starting to wonder if I should turn off my FAX, or program the device to reject faxes from pharmacies.

  2. R Stuart
    January 30, 2020 at 9:53 am

    The only reason pharmacies do this is because there are more than enough sheep-doctors who will do any amount of scut work anyone tells them to do, such that it is profitable for the big pharmacy corporations.

    What is the character flaw that makes it impossible for physicians to say “No”?

  3. Aaron M. Levine
    January 29, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    I tried to get my automatic prescriptions stopped. I was on a antispasmodic following prostate surgery for a week about 2 years ago. I get a phone call every 3 months for a 90 day supply that I refuse to refill. I discussed this with the pharmacist and was told she did not have any success in shutting it down.

  4. Edmund Hayes
    January 29, 2020 at 11:10 am

    I am a pharmacist and former Dean of a School of Pharmacy. The reason these automatic refill requests are sent to physician offices is simple, many pharmacies and especially the chain pharmacies want to make money and don’t necessarily give a damn about the patient. It’s all about the money and little to do with patient convenience. This is a corporate decision made by money people not health care professionals. Remember this is done automatically by the pharmacies computer system and not because the patient actually requested the refill. After the automatic refill request is authorized by the physicians office the pharmacy then fills the prescription, calls the patient to pick it up the meds and bills for the drug. The patient just thinks the physician wants them to continue taking the meds. (BTW I am told that many times especially for routine maintenance medications that physician involvement is sometimes non-existent and the office staff just ok’s the request) My neighbor was taking simvastatin. Her cardiologist felt she need better control of her lipid profile and changed the simvastatin to rosuvastatin. The rosuvastatin was filled in a different pharmacy from the simvastatin. Because of bad communication between everyone, the patient took both statins. She either didn’t remember, didn’t understand or maybe was never told by the cardiologist to stop the simvastatin. This double statin therapy continued for a bit over 9 months because both pharmacies kept sending automatic refill requests to both physicians, which were ok’ed. The 2 physicians didn’t know what the other one was doing and because she didn’t have another appointment with either doctor during this period of time she kept taking both statins. She finally went to a walk in clinic because of her extreme leg pain and that is where the error was found. This automatic refill request system is dangerous but the fix for this is simple, all physicians should not accept automatic computer generated refill requests and physicians should only accept requests for prescription refills from the patient themselves.

    • Douglas Farrago MD
      January 29, 2020 at 12:57 pm

      This is awesome and exactly as I thought!!

  5. JRDO
    January 29, 2020 at 10:17 am

    Pharmacy has become even more corporate than primary care. According to the pharmacists I personally know, the annoying refill and alert faxes are indeed computer generated and are the brain child of the MBAs. Throw the MBAs under the bus, not the pharmacists.

  6. R Stuart
    January 29, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Take prescription requests ONLY from patients.

    All faxes from pharmacies get trashed.

    End of problem

  7. Ramona
    January 29, 2020 at 7:54 am

    Yes, another problem is an auto generated message claiming patient is requesting 90 day supply on medications that I did not intend to be prescribed for 90 days. Creating more inbox work and unnecessary calls to patient to confirm they have received appropriate med qty requested. A potential patient harm issue!

  8. Sir Lance-a-lot
    January 29, 2020 at 7:52 am

    I used to get theses faxes all the time in previous jobs, but now we prescribe through the mysterious computer thingamajig, so they seem to appear in my EMR “Inbox” and I just ignore them (there are thousands now – I can only delete them if I first “Accept” them, and since I don’t want them, I won’t “Accept” them, so I can’t delete them).

    Early on, I would sometimes scrawl a nasty message across the fax forms (like “Are you kidding me?” on an antibiotic course) and fax it back, but it wasn’t worth the energy.

    I work Urgent Care, so NONE of the meds I prescribe are ever renewed, but LOTS of them receive automatic “renew” messages from the pharmacies.

  9. Pat
    January 29, 2020 at 7:50 am

    Sure, I get these, and ‘concerned’ notices about whether there may be a dangerous interaction from meds I prescribed (sometimes weeks or months ago) via medical records offices in the ED! Aaaaand they go right in the trash.

Comments are closed.