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Pharmacy employees: How to say no to "Sudafed" abusers?

Discussion in 'Pre-Pharmacy' started by eddie269, Mar 26, 2006.

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  1. eddie269

    eddie269 Still in shock... 10+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2003
    Hey all. I just started working as a pharmacy clerk/typist at Walgreens this past week. I FREAKIN LOVE THIS JOB! I think I got lucky because all the tech's and pharmacists are really cool. And the customers we get (mostly Russians and Chinese area) are CHEAP, but USUALLY very understanding and patient. Plus Walgreens system is very user friendly.

    ANYWAYS, back to topic. About once a shift, I get a guy (usually Mexicans) who specifically ask for 2 boxes of sudafed (or Wal-fed) OTC. Now my manager warned me about these meth labs and to deny sales when they ask for TWO boxes specifically. But I am a very nice guy who HATES confrontation, but at the same time, I have a responsibility to not "support" meth labs in MY neighborhood.

    So for all of you who experiences this, what do you tell them?

    I know some people ask for ID, some tell them to sign their name, and me personally, ask for a prescription whenever they ask for 2 boxes or more.

    Tell me some of your favorite/most effective ways for dealing with this sticky situation?

    ALSO, does anyone else feel like they're racially profiling these customers? I am very open-minded but it's getting to a point where if I see a Mexican guy walk in with an accent asking for 2 boxes of sudafed, I automatically think "METH LAB!" It's starting to make me feel like a bad person. :(
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  3. dgroulx

    dgroulx Night Pharmacist 10+ Year Member

    I wouldn't trust someone buying two boxes. At the end of the year, we always have left over sudafed in the medicine cabinet and that is from only one box. I got a prescription for Allegra-D last April. I've only used 24 tabs. Even if someone had horrible allergies, they're not going to take more than one tab per day.

    I'd just tell him, "sorry, store policy limits you to one box". He'll still buy all the boxes he needs for meth, but he'll have to put in a little more effort by going to more pharmacies.
  4. Moxxie

    Moxxie Rained out 7+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    Temperate Rainforest
    In Texas, there's a sudafed sales log that we have to fill out for every single person that buys it. We have to take their driver's license and record how many mg of sudafed they're getting. Supposedly the police come by every once in a while and take the logs for scrutinization. I'm not really sure that it deters people, though. We still get people asking for two boxes of 96. And then maybe 15 minutes later someone else will ask for 2 boxes of 96. I'm pretty sure that they just go in a loop - there are a lot of pharmacies in our area. The first time it happened I asked the RPh if I could give out two boxes, and he just shrugged and said "that's what the drug log is for."

    What I've been more torn about is the IV drug users. I want them to be able to get clean needles, but I don't want to encourage use. So far I've been able to get by by saying "do you have a prescription for the needles and syringes?" When they say no, I say "Texas law says we can only give out needles to someone with a prescription for them." This way I'm not lying. Some people have come in with a script for needles and syringes - we can fill that as long as they don't actually tell us that the needles are going to be used for IV drugs.

    Oh and another question to all you techs - maybe it's just because we're right next to several hospitals, but how many hydrocodone scripts do you guys typically do? It seems like we give it out like candy.
  5. calrx

    calrx 7+ Year Member

    Oct 22, 2005
    As soon as it gets *somewhat* warm here, my allergies are through the roof. Between me, my mom, and my sister we easily go through a few boxes over the summer. I even have a box that I leave in my drawer at work. There are definitely days when I'll take 1 in the AM and 1 later at night, if I really can't breathe.

    At Target, we track sudaphed sales through the computer. A person is allowed to buy 2 items at a time and we have to type their whole license into the computer. One guy tried to buy 3 boxes the other day and the computer gave me this error message saying "Limited Sale. Customer has reached a maximum supply" or something. I like that I don't personally have to worry about it; the computer takes care of all the tracking.
  6. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    What is the official store policy and the state law?

    At my store you can buy two boxes at a time.
    In Kentucky you are limited to purchasing 9 grams of PSE per month.
    9 grams is actually quite a bit.

    So I'd have no legal grounds to deny someone the opportunity to purchase two boxes at once. Maybe they just want to avoid a second trip to the pharmacy. In fact, we always ask people if they want one box or two.

    You need to be basing your decisions and behavior on state law, and OFFICIAL store policy, NOT racial profiling.
  7. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Every 20 days I purchase 2 boxes of 20 count Claritin-D for my husband.
    He takes them BID, 365 days.

    I just switched to a different antihistamine, but prior to that I took Zyrtec-D BID every day for over three years.

    Some people go through it faster than others.
  8. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    In KY you can sell needles OTC. I sell them to anyone who asks and has ID. They have to fill out the needle log.

    It's a public health issue. Access to clean needles helps stop the spread of disease. They are going to shoot up whether they get new needles or not. It's like saying that access to contraception encourages sexual activity. It doesn't. Sexual activity/drug use is going to happen - that's a given - so in my opinion the tools to make it safer should be readily available.

    And, OMG - at my store we sell so many narcotics/pain pills. Our fast mover section is full of every type of hydrocodone/APAP, propox/APAP, tramadol, and strength of alprazolam you could ever want.
  9. tkim

    tkim 10 cc's cordrazine 10+ Year Member

    Aug 2, 2002
    New England
    I use Sudaphed almost every day for my nasal congestion and usually at higher than suggested dosage. I used to buy one 96 ct box at a time when I didn't have to go to the pharmacy counter. But since the various policies of stores limit the amount and also place these meds behind the pharm counter, I always buy the max limit I can because let's face it - it's a waste of my time and yours to have this med behind the counter and I want to reduce the number of times I have to queue up to get it.
  10. ultracet

    ultracet 1K Member 10+ Year Member

    Mar 4, 2004
    i apparently have a meth lab ;)

    i'm one who buys the max as well. and i typically take 2 at least BID
  11. eddie269

    eddie269 Still in shock... 10+ Year Member

    Dec 19, 2003

    Well, my store policy is torn in between. I hear the store manager says to sell the sudafed (for profits of course for the store) while the pharmacy manager says do not sell the sudafed. :confused: I just started so I'm sure I'll get more experience in using my own judgment.

    So for, everyone says they either have them sign on a log/computer, or they just sell them 2 at a time. Anything else?
  12. Aznfarmerboi

    Aznfarmerboi Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    May 18, 2005

    It depends, however its not up to you to judge if they are going to abuse it or not. Give it to them as long as it is legal. My pharmacy manager thinks that Sudafed is used to make crack so its all based on the situation. In your case, the decision is up to you. I would advise that you sell it but at the same time warn you of who your real manager is (pharmacy manager).

    I agree with ALL4DAUGHTER, its not up for you to decide if someone is going to abuse it or not. For all you know, they can be just stockpiling it for the season.

    For example in NY, the law is that anyone can buy needles only a maxium of 10 at time. That means they can leave and walk back into the store to buy another 10. Its not up to me to judge them so i have to sell it. Needles are a whole different story though because its better to have people using different needles than sharing the same one anyway. However if i was to refuse sale to the person, it would be me at fault.
  13. imperial frog

    imperial frog Pharm.D 5+ Year Member

    It's a simple "I'm sorry but the store's policy (state's law if it applies) only allows me to sell X amount of X." No need to say anything else or make up any excuses.
  14. All4MyDaughter

    All4MyDaughter SDN Mommystrator Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor Classifieds Approved 10+ Year Member

    Actually, your judgement shouldn't play into it too much if you follow the official store policy and the law. It shouldn't be too hard to find out what those are. There is really no basis for you to use much "judgement" here because you don't have any information upon which to judge. You don't know why they want it, if they are a cooker or not, or anything about them. Sorry if that sounds harsh but it is the truth.

    If your store has an "unofficial" policy of not selling Sudafed to Mexicans (or people PRESUMED to be Mexican because of appearance)... well I'd stay far away from that type of behavior. Racial profiling, racial discrimination, even PERCEIVED discrimination can get a business into a lot of trouble. Google the Denny's lawsuit from a few years ago.
  15. PharmGrl

    PharmGrl 7+ Year Member

    Mar 20, 2006

    At the pharmacy I work in, we deal out C2's (usually Percocet and Morphine) like it's candy, too it seems. We have people that come in and get it like clockwork! It's the only thing they get, and we know when we see them exactly what we are going to be dealing with....

    I have learned in this field that judgement is not in the hands of the pharmacy staff in any shape or form....state laws are to dictate what you can and cannot do, unless your pharmacist on duty wants to be more strict....then it becomes their problem. CYA when it comes to what you can do for the patient/customer based on what your environment dictates.
  16. dgroulx

    dgroulx Night Pharmacist 10+ Year Member

    Wow! I'm glad I have mild allergies.
  17. USCPharmD09

    USCPharmD09 PharmD Candidate 2009 5+ Year Member

    Feb 17, 2006
    this one guy has been coming in to buy sudafed every 3 days at the pharmacy i used to work at. the last time, he came in, shaking, asking for more. we gave it to him, and a few minutes later he comes back. the bag is torn to shreds, the box is torn in half. he wants to exchange it for a higher strength. we told him we were out.
  18. RockAByBaby

    RockAByBaby UVA c/o 2006!!!! 5+ Year Member

    Mar 9, 2006
    hehe...sounds like an interview question! tell them to go to costco.

    just kidding..
    If you don't want to pass judgment, maybe you could ask them if they would like to be referred to a pharmacist to discuss their specific symptoms so the pharmacist can suggest a substitute to sudafed. You can probably gauge their true intentions by their response.

    ~fellow econ. major
  19. Moxxie

    Moxxie Rained out 7+ Year Member

    Oct 20, 2005
    Temperate Rainforest
    The needle log is a great idea! I asked my PIC for clarification on the needle/syringe issue. She said to sell them to anyone that asked. I asked her about TX state law, and she said that I was mistaken about needing a prescription. It turns out that I was wrong :oops: (I actually called the state board of pharmacy to ask). I had read this study ( and I must have misinterpreted it. Texas actually doesn't have a law regarding syringe/needle sales - it's just up to each pharmacy to set their own guidelines.

    As long as they don't explicitly tell us that they'll be using the needles/syringes for illegal drugs (and some people have gone that far), our store's policy is to dispense them. This makes me feel a bit better.

    On another note, the race issue doesn't come up here at all - most of our patients are Hispanic. I'm actually more suspicious of the trailer-ish looking white people when they come in asking for several boxes of sudafed. :eek:
  20. genesis09

    genesis09 Senior Member 10+ Year Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    A true meth user has a look to them. Look at pictures of them, and you can find the similarities. There are many Hispanics in the U.S., and the vast majority of them are not making meth. They buy Sudafed because they are nasal congestion. You shouldn't profile on ethnicity. Take a look on how often they buy pseudoephedrine before denying the purchase.
  21. NCRxgal

    NCRxgal Member 5+ Year Member

    Feb 15, 2006
    Eddie, I was was just curious about why you felt the need to point out the nationalities of not only your customers, but also the people you feel to be running thes labs? Also, what was the point in labeling entire groups of people ie. the Russians, the Chinese, and the Mexicans? That's problematic and that is what you call stereotyping. As a future pharmacist, you have a responsibility of looking beyond those preconceived notions, good or bad, because they are just wrong. I mean honestly, would you label the entire White race, for example, as being mean if a few white people come into Walgreen's and jump across the table at you for not giving them syringes? No..... You're right, you have to be open-minded so please try your best to treat everyone as an individuals otherwise your risk being at fault of racial profiling. If you're ever unsure about a customer, just let your manager make the call, otherwise you have no choice but to sell it. I hope this helps
  22. Sefowa04

    Sefowa04 Member 5+ Year Member

    Mar 4, 2006
    At my store the only regulations on cold medicines that have the potential to be abused is that customers can buy no more than 2 packages per transaction, and there is a paper on the register's monitor stating the law. As far as syringes go, anyone who asks and has the money can get some. I don't work that often so I wouldn't notice if somebody came in frequently to buy these questionable items.

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