Random tale of the motherfuckers

Pat Wang
CEO Healthfirst
100 Church Street
19th floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Ms. Wang:

I am writing to call your attention to the negligence and unresponsiveness of Healthfirst’s third party pharmacy, CVS Caremark.  They sent me a new medication four times the strength of the prescribed dose they have been sending me for years.  They took no responsibility for their mistake, their customer service was unresponsive.

After two hours on the phone with them Monday, and their unkept promise to call me back immediately to resolve their potentially deadly error, they cited internal policies to your rep on Tuesday and refused to correct their serious error in dispensing a blood pressure lowering drug four times the strength of my prescription.  CVS at one point offered to file a grievance against Healthfirst, for reasons I still can’t fathom.

When I called the next day to get Healthfirst’s help with the pharmacy issue Nadine (who was wonderful, if powerless) called CVS.   CVS told Nadine that it is the patient’s sole responsibility to contact the doctor and have the doctor correct the erroneous prescription CVS recently requested from him (my current medication is apparently unavailable) and filled without checking that it was four times stronger than the dose of Irbesartan I have been taking for several years.

CVS mailed me a ninety day supply of a drug I never heard of, Losartan Potassium, in a 100 mg dose.  I called CVS, who, after forty minutes, mostly on hold, explained that the blood pressure medication Irbesartan is currently unavailable. They eventually pointed me to a letter in their packet explaining that they’d contacted my doctor informing him of its unavailability.  Their letter misstated my current dosage as 150 mg, twice the 75 mg. I take daily.  More than one CVS rep argued with me about my dosage, insisting it was 150 mg though they’ve been sending me 75 mg pills for several years. 

My doctor idiotically compounded CVS’s mistake by prescribing a 100 mg dose of the alternative, Losartan.  It turns out this dose is the equivalent of 300 mg (or four times) the 75 mg dose of Irbesartan I take.  Carelessly dispensing a much higher than prescribed dose of any drug is a serious, potentially lethal, mistake.   As far as I know taking a quadruple dose of blood pressure lowering medication can cause a sudden, radical drop in blood pressure, resulting in loss of consciousness, a fall and possible serious injury.   

The pharmacist at CVS at one point told me to just take the pills because my doctor had prescribed them.   Responding to my follow-up question she looked up the equivalence of the two drugs and saw that 100 mg of Losartan is four times the dose I take to control my borderline high blood pressure.  I verified this.  My doctor should have prescribed 25 mg of Losartan, CVS should have known this; it would have taken CVS thirty seconds to verify it as it did when I asked the pharmacist to compare the two drugs.

I am aware that there is no regulatory agency in New York State that hears complaints about errors, even potentially deadly ones, by medical corporations operating in New York State. Nadine took my “complaint” and regretted I could not receive a copy of it, or even know if anyone ever reads it.   She assured me that somebody would read her version of my complaint.  I told her I would bring the matter to your attention.  Your response is requested and will be appreciated.

Yours sincerely,

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