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Walgreen Has Computer Issues – Two Officers Depart

September 23rd, 2014

Pharmacists at Walgreen, the largest pharmacy operator in the United States, recently found themselves manning the phones and doing it “old school” in the wake of a massive computer disruption that left prescription labels unreadable. The problem also allowed customers who would normally be flagged for special instructions to leave the story without receiving the essential information required.


According to Chuck Greener, spokesman for the drug store giant, the problem impacted “considerably, considerably less than 1% of the chain’s pharmacy customers and didn’t rise to the level of mislabeling drugs or telling customers to take improper dosages,” but that was hard to tell based on the reported disruption that the problem caused within the chain’s normal operations. Walgreen has over 8,000 pharmacies throughout the United States, and operations were brought to a standstill by the system failure, which occurred on August 22nd . Though the problem was addressed and corrected on the same day, more than a week was spent following up with patients whose prescriptions had been filled during the computer system’s down time.


The computer crash caused two major issues. The first impacted the computer-generated labels that are attached to prescriptions and which provide dosage instructions and warnings. The labels were printed in random characters, making some hard or even impossible to understand.  The second problem involved specific customers whose prescriptions required a final consultation before they left the store. When the system is operating correctly the dispensing pharmacist receives a notification that they cannot release those prescriptions without first talking to the patient and explaining any risks or unusual instructions that might be appropriate.


As a result of the system disruption, an urgent email was sent out to all store managers and assistant managers. With a subject line reading “UPDATE – Action Required,” these personnel were instructed to personally make telephone calls to all pharmacy customers to notify them of the problem. All routine tasks, including inventory functions and walking the floors of the store were to be set aside with full attention focused on reaching customers. The managers were instructed to attempt to contact each patient no less than three times and document the times that they attempted to make contact. Those customers that were not reached after three tries were then turned over to a call center until all had been reached.  The effort was such a high priority that the memo indicated, “Outside of receiving warehouse and putting it up, all other inventory related tasks can be paused.”


Mr. Greener indicated that almost all customers had successfully been contacted by the end of the week, though some still needed to be contacted. The computer crash comes on the heels of financial disappointments within Walgreen operations. Earnings forecasts were recently cut by $1.1 billion as a result of a failure to build in price increases in negotiations with health care providers in anticipation of generic drug prices rising. As a result of the loss, two high-level Walgreen executives, Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon and Pharmacy Chief Kermit Crawford, have left the company.




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Gavin P. Lentz, Esq.
Bochetto & Lentz

Gavin Lentz (right) was selected as a "Super Lawyer" for 2006-2009 and 2010-2015 in New Jersey by Philadelphia Magazine. He has also been selected as a "Super Lawyer" by Philadelphia Magazine and the Legal Intelligencer in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011 - 2015.

On September 16, 2002 Mr. Lentz was selected as one of the top 50 lawyers in Pennsylvania by the Legal Intelligencer.

He has made many television appearances, including on Fox News, The Today Show, Inside Edition, and The Phil Donahue Show.

Mr. Lentz is a member of the American Trial Lawyers Association and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

As a former prosecutor, he knows how to aggressively go after large pharmacy chains to prove the facts necessary to protect your loved one's rights.

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