By Lancaster resident Christine Getshall
On 6/14/13, I went to Walmart.com to refill an Rx and noticed that my NORCO Rx had been refilled and picked up 6/7/13. I had not refilled the Rx or picked it up. I would normally not refill this Rx for three or more months. The 90 pill Rx would normally last me an extended period of time.
I immediately went to the Walmart Pharmacy [on Valley Central Way] and talked to the pharmacist. She pulled up the Rx information and the signature of the person picking up the Rx. It was an obvious signature scribble. The security footage was then pulled showing a young man picking up the Rx. My file was noted of this and that only I am to pick up any prescriptions going forward.
I then filed a police report with LA County Sheriff’s Department. The report was taken as Forgery/ID Theft, and the deputy went to the store and talked with the pharmacist and picked up the security footage. I filed the report, suspecting someone that I knew. This, however, was not the case. After spending the weekend trying to figure out “how,” I became suspicious of this being done by a WalMart Pharmacy employee.
On Monday 6/17/13, I went back to the [West Lancaster Walmart] Pharmacy and talked to the pharmacist again, and she confirmed by suspicions. The employee checking out the Rx did NOT check any ID – not to mention require my ID. The Rx was filled exactly on the day that it would be allowed as a 30-day supply as an auto fill. I was told that it was being investigated by Walmart Loss Prevention.
I filed the police report, notified the CA Pharmacy Board, DEA and contacted my insurance company. On 6/21/13, I was contacted by an LA County Lancaster Station Deputy letting me know that Loss Prevention identified that an employee at the Pharmacy was involved and had been arrested, and they were in the process of arresting the person picking up the Rx. It was discovered that “Controlled Substance” prescriptions (those with a street value) were being set as auto fill, and prescriptions that were about to expire because a person did not need the refill were being filled. The employee/suspect would contact an outside accomplice to pick up the Rx when the employee/suspect was working, so no ID would be required.
If this has happened to me, it has happened to others (still unknown how many). I shudder to think that there are some older senior citizens without their pain medication because they can’t remember if they filled it or not when the Pharmacy tells them they don’t have any refills left. I caught it one week after it occurred so the trail was still fresh. I want to ensure that the Walmart employee is not just arrested, but that policy changes are made so that this won’t happen again. Perhaps controlled substance medications should not be filled via auto-fill; or if they are filled via auto-fill, the refill should be held behind the counter and the pharmacist should be required to check ID before releasing.
All patients at this Pharmacy that have had Rx’s filled/stolen by this employee need to be notified of not only the theft of the Rx but of the HIPPA violation. The patient name, address and doctor are on the bottle that was given to the accomplice picking up the refill.
According to the deputy, I have nothing that I can press charges about. The theft was from Walmart (even though it was my Rx and it is still showing on my profile that I picked it up), and the insurance company, since they paid. The accomplice signed with a scribble, but didn’t pose as me since no ID was checked. And unless he had the bottle on him at the time arrest, there was nothing.
I understand that Walmart wants to keep this quiet, but if this person was allowed to pull this theft scam off, the public needs to be made aware. If it had not been for me catching this theft and reporting to the various authorities, who knows how long this would have gone on. How many other Walmart pharmacies, or any pharmacy for that matter, is this happening at?
44665 Valley Central Way
Lancaster, CA 93534
Loss Prevention Name: Marlin Smart (LP Mgr) Store #: 661-940-8744
West Lancaster Walmart Loss Prevention and Lancaster Sheriff’s Station deputies are to be commended for their fast response leading to arrests being made.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.
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