Missouri board to investigate work conditions at pharmacies

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A state board is looking into allegations that pharmacists have been overworked, pressured to meet corporate metrics and haven't had time to fill prescriptions safely.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the Missouri Board of Pharmacy is appointing a task force this month to examine working conditions inside pharmacies across the state after hundreds of pharmacists raised concerns. 

"I've heard pharmacists say that they don't drink anything before they go on shift because they're afraid they may not get a bathroom break," said Ron Fitzwater, CEO of the Missouri Pharmacy Association. "That's not even healthy, much less a good business practice."

The board said in a statement earlier this year that "patient safety should not be jeopardized for company profits." 

Pharmacy giants CVS Health and Walgreens both told the Post-Dispatch they were committed to patient care. Walmart did not respond to a request seeking comment.

Kimberly Grinston, executive director of the Missouri Board of Pharmacy, said COVID-19 has placed additional demands on pharmacists. Some had to cope with staff absences because of quarantine or illness. And the vaccines rolled out in winter, which is already a busy time .

"We had a convergence of all these things, so the board had concerns about staffing and working conditions," Grinston said.