Amazon Pharmacy Could Kill You

through inefficiency and failed systems.

By complete coincidence I moved my prescriptions to Amazon Pharmacy[1] the week they launched their $5 RXpass[2] It hasn’t gone well, 7-days later I’m still waiting for my first refill and have been out of that drug for 4-days.

One of the lessons of qualifying for Medicare is you are pretty much required to pay for a Part-D drug plan. Even if you have Part-C insurance, it often won’t include drug insurance. If you don’t take out a Part-D plan, you can be assessed for a penalty payment in Medicare which you will pay for the rest of your life.

I have a UnitedHealthcare Part-C plan, scoured the Part-D providers and settled on a Wellcare Classic (PDP) MedicareRx plan. I’m pretty sure I checked Pharmacy coverage, but after looking at dozens of plans online, who knows. I take 4-prescriptions drugs, three for my heart condition, and one short term for a skin condition.

Until now, I’ve been using a King Soopers (Kroger) pharmacy. The store is a 10-minute walk from the house. When the anti-biotic I’m taking for a skin condition needed refilling, I went to the Wellcare website, created a login, and looked up my options. Apparently the plan I have didn’t have any pharmacy’s within 50-miles of where I live. Well that was my screw-up.

You can’t just cancel a plan once you have one, they run for a year and then you can change in a enrollment window.

What Happened?

I logged in to Amazon Pharmacy, filled in the web page with personal details(name, address, DoB, social security) and insurance plan details. After that, I was prompted to enter the drugs, remarkably they got the prescription details, I assume from Wellcare. Then it displayed a screen with the drugs orders on. The refills were correct, one of the amounts was incorrect, I went through to Pharmacy help via chat, they answered pretty much instantly and cancelled that and told me to re-input the details, job done.

After that for 2+ days the status showed something equivalent to “under review by a pharmacist”. No changes and on Thursday I waited on chat for about an hour to talk to an agent. I stated I was out of the tablet for the anti-biotic order, the agent told me they’d speak to the pharmacist and get the check expedited so I could order that day. They did, I ordered and paid on 1/26.

Ever since transferring the prescriptions I’d been bombarded by text messages and emails with various status from Amazon Pharmacy for each prescription. These are just the emails in my trash folder. Every email has a corresponding text message.

My refill was supposed to be delivered by Monday(yesterday) by 9pm. Yesterday I tried tracking the order, first thing I checked on mobile and I was lucky, the label for shipping had just been created. I waited. Nothing. At 2pm I checked again on Amazon Pharmacy, the status was the same “label printed” only the date and time had been updated to the same exact time.

I kept checking and the same result. Amazon pharmacy app restricts the ability to do screen captures on android, and so I had to have my wife take pictures of my phone. Here are a selection, including one showing that screen captures are restricted. Why?

How did you resolve it?

According to the Amazon Pharmacy’s web site “Pharmacists are available 24-7” except you cannot get through to them.

Customer care are only available from 8am until 10pm eastern time. Given I’m mountain time I have to deduct 2-hours from that. It was too late to contact them last night, I tried but got an answer service where you couldn’t leave a message that just said they’d call in the morning during customer service hours.

I was on the phone at 7:21am this morning. At that time the order still said “Label Printed” and the then current time. The only difference was now it said “Order Delayed”.

My phone call with Amazon was placed at 7:21, I was put in a queue for a callback. The callback came at 7:33 and after a back and forward with the customer care agent, the agent talked to a pharmacist and came back to me. The net result was that Amazon don’t know what happened to my refill, cancelled the order and refunded my payment. Here is their email. It’s much worse than that though, read-on.

Amazon refused to reship the order or do anything more. The customer care agent was very polite, so was I, she apologized profusely but explained it like this.

  1. Amazon can’t provide a refill as I have no refills left.
  2. She agreed I was out of refills because Amazon put in an order that meant I was out of refills.
  3. She agreed the order is lost in Amazon’s system and Amazon can’t tell me what happened to the refill.
  4. She told me the only solution was to have the Doctor reorder another prescription.

The problem with this is I’ve been without that prescription drug since Friday, if I ask the Doctor to write another prescription through Amazon it will take at least three days before it arrives, if ever.

Call Insurance

At this point the only way to resolve this is to call my Doctor, have them issue a new prescription for just the refill to my local pharmacy. However, if I do that, I’ll have to pay cash price and what’s the point of Insurance then?

I called Wellcare Insurance at 7:57am. My phone call would take 1-hour, 26-minutes.

I first spoke to a male agent based in the Phillipines. he tried to resolve the issue with Amazon. He came back after about 20-minutes and gave me tracking number TBA305068251964. This isn’t a shipping tracking number, it’s the same number seen in all the screen captures above.

His advice was to transfer all my prescriptions to CVS Caremark[3] – but that could take at least another week after calling the Doctor.

I asked to speak to a supervisor. I got through to US Representative Tanya. I explained to Tanya, she said she’d transfer me to the CVS Caremark team. I asked why given this was an Amazon order, Tanya said that the CVS Caremark team handle all the mail order problems. They don’t.

Jackie at CVS Caremark transferred me back to US Wellcare Supervisor Dominique. After discussing it, Dominique agreed to send out a refund form that I can return with a receipt from the pharmacy and that Wellcare will refund the difference between what I paid, and what I should have paid.

So, that’s alright then, except it really isn’t.

If my delivery day had been a Friday, and the meds’ I was trying to refill had been one of my heart medications, it could have taken another week to resolve. I still don’t have my refill although my Doctors office is issuing a new prescription.

Given all the potential frustration and time this has caused, and the fact it could have been a holiday weekend or similar, I could have had another heart attack or stroke. As it happens, as I sit here and type, my heart rate is up a bit, but is still at a reasonable 62BPM.

Amazon Pharmacy could kill you… you’ve been warned.

3 thoughts on “Amazon Pharmacy Could Kill You

  1. Oh my goodness – what a freaking nightmare. I am so sorry you had to go through such an agonizing situation.

    Thank you, Mark, for bringing this horrific customer service issue. The fact that this is such a vital medication for a life threatening condition.

    What can all of us, reading your article, do to help correct this situation – other than to issue a boycotting of Amazon Pharmacy and CVS Care?

    1. CVS isn’t at fault here. I have no contract or order with them. In fact, I’ll likely transfer my existing prescriptions from Amazon to CVS Caremark as a better option than Amazon.

      I’m sure Amazon will eventually get their act together, but I wrote this as a warning, “you get what you pay for”. The Amazon $5 per month RXpass should probably be avoided for now.

      The real answer is I should have taken (even) more time when selecting my Part-D plan, making sure I had a local pharmacy option. Take care!

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