For those of you who don’t know, I take a lot of brain pills to help me do things like get to sleep, stay asleep, and make it through a single day without curling into a ball and quietly weeping. I used to get those brain pills at Walgreen’s. No longer. Here is a comment I submitted via the Walgreen’s website. The poor assistant manager of the local store had to call me. I was nice to her, but let her know that I wouldn’t be back.
To Whom It May Concern:
I have approximately one month’s worth of Walgreen’s-purchased prescription medication remaining (that much solely because I just purchased it tonight), and it is the last that I will ever take. I have been a Walgreen’s customer for over twenty years - for longer than I can remember -ever since corporate pharmacies drove the small pharmacy in my neighborhood out of business and my parents began purchasing my prescriptions and other drug store-type items at Walgreen’s. I’m a member of the Walgreen’s loyalty program, and, due to my medical conditions, earn generous rewards as I refill my many prescriptions.
However, after tonight’s refills (3 of them, one for a name-brand drug [I don’t know if name-brand drugs have higher profit margins for pharmacies, but I suspect that they might]), I’ll never use a Walgreen’s pharmacy again, despite their ubiquity and generally satisfactory service.
Tonight, when I got home and opened the envelope that contained two of my prescriptions, I was alarmed to find an “informational” pamphlet about a THIRD drug, for which I do not have a prescription. Initially I thought that I might have been given the wrong medication, but the labels on the bottles were correct. Just as I was about to consult the internet to get physical descriptions of the pills I was supposed to take, I noticed a line at the top of the pamphlet for Abilify (the drug I don’t take): “ATTENTION: This is information about the product featured in the leaflet, NOT your prescription medication.”
I immediately recognized the pamphlet for what it was: targeted advertising, based on the information my doctors and I had provided Walgreen’s, in confidence, so that your company could fill my prescriptions. I called the store where I had filled the scripts, and the pharmacy worker was kind and honest enough to admit that, yes, it was an ad. Let me put this simply: if I need to take Abilify, my doctor will prescribe it for me. I’m not a paranoid privacy crusader, and I recognize that we live in an age of micro-targeted advertising based on our shopping habits, web browsing, and magazine subscriptions. But the idea of a corporation using my private medical information to slip an advertisement for a prescription drug in with bottles of my OTHER prescription drugs is beyond what I will tolerate.
I’m sure that the manufacturer of Abilify is paying Walgreen’s enough that the loss of one customer, or even a handful of them, will not make the partnership a unprofitable one, and I realize that this email is a metaphorical shout into the gaping void of corporate ethical nonchalance. But I thought it was important for someone, even a poorly-paid, non-unionized, and almost certainly alarmingly exploited email screener, to know that Walgreen’s slatternly policy of targeting ads to its customers based on the medical information they provide in confidence has cost the company a loyal customer.
Walgreen’s doesn’t care, because Walgreen’s will make more money from the maker of Abilify than even I, a truly exceptional consumer of prescription medications, if I do say so myself, will ever pay its pharmacy. I am acutely aware of that. But, damn it, I’ve had three drinks and that is enough to get my void-yelling juices flowing, so here it is. Goodbye, Walgreen’s. I’m off to find a local pharmacy, keep my co-pays in my city, and not have my personal information whored out to other slavering corporate pimps.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns.
All the best,