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We Suppose This Might Be Problematic

, , , , | Healthy | November 19, 2021

A particular medication that I’ve needed for a while comes in several forms: injections, suppositories, and oral pills. I’ve been on all three varieties over the past few years. This scene happens as my doctor has just switched me from injections to pills and I go to fill the new prescription at the pharmacy for the first time.

The pharmacist hands me a bottle of what looks like large pills, but I review the instructions on the label before I leave and notice that something seems off, so I go back up to the counter to ask the pharmacist a question.

Me: “Excuse me, but the instructions on this medication say to ‘insert vaginally,’ and I’m pretty sure I’m supposed to be on the oral form of this medication right now. The bottle you gave me looks like pills, not suppositories, so I’m guessing it’s just mislabeled, but I want to double-check that I got the right thing before I leave.”

The pharmacist answers in a condescending voice.

Pharmacist: “No, this medication is always a suppository. Don’t swallow it; insert it vaginally.”

Me: “But I was just at my doctor’s office yesterday and he told me I’d be getting an oral version of the med now. Right now I’m taking a version of this medication that’s an intramuscular injection, so I know it comes in multiple forms. Also, I’ve been on the suppositories in the past and they didn’t look anything like this. But this is my first time taking the oral version, so I’m not positive what it’s supposed to look like. Are you sure these aren’t pills that I’m supposed to swallow orally?”

Pharmacist: “No, just follow the instructions on the label and call your doctor if you have any questions.”

Me: “I’m sorry, but this just doesn’t make sense to me, and these really look like pills, not suppositories. Can you please just double-check the prescription before I leave?”

The pharmacist rolls his eyes and snatches the meds out of my hand. He comes back a few minutes later.

Pharmacist: “Your doctor wrote the wrong thing down, but I called and checked and you’re supposed to be on pills, not the suppositories. Here’s the correct medication for you.”

Then, he handed me back the exact same bottle of pills with a different label with instructions to “swallow by mouth”. He never apologized or acknowledged his error in any way.

I simply thanked him and left, but I’m sure glad I pay attention and aren’t afraid to advocate for myself. Even if my doctor did write the wrong instructions on some form, isn’t it supposed to be the pharmacist’s job to catch errors like that? And how could he not tell the difference between pills and suppositories? They look nothing alike!

I still see that pharmacist every time I go to that store. I just hope he hasn’t hurt anyone else by messing up their meds too badly!