CVS customer catches pharmacy employee's alleged unsanitary behavior on camera: ‘This is the final straw’

·4 min read

A CVS customer recorded an employee who allegedly engaged in unsanitary behavior at work, in an incident the shopper referred to as her “final straw” with the pharmacy.

Jessica (@jessica.lasirena), the patron in question, shared footage on TikTok of a pharmacy employee at a CVS in Spring Valley, Calif., touching her medication with their bare hands immediately after allegedly tending to the cash register and handling money from other customers.

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In her caption, Jessica explained that when she went to pick up her medication from the pharmacy’s drive-thru, staffers had prepared the wrong prescription. While waiting for her correct medication, Jessica says she recorded the employee measuring out her dosage by hand before dumping it into what appears to be a pill counting or bottling device.

TikTokers were equally disgusted by the seemingly unsanitary behavior. 

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A guide for the North American Pharmacist Licensure Examination (NAPLEX) advises that pharmacists should use gloves to avoid possibly absorbing any drugs through the skin. The guide also notes that touching pills may pose the risk of “contaminating someone else’s medication with medication already on your hands or trace amounts of dirt and germs you might carry.”

“Using gloves will help avoid accidental contact,” the guide notes. “Be sure to dispose of the gloves after touching medication to prevent cross-contamination between the prescriptions of different customers.”

Jessica told In The Know that she decided to pull out her phone and begin filming after her husband saw the employee operate a computer, tend to the cash register and move a few items around before filling her prescription. The employee allegedly did not clean her hands or put on gloves in between those tasks.

“My husband saw her and I pulled out my phone because I was going to complain to the pharmacist and I wanted to have it on video in case they did not believe me,” Jessica said.

Jessica said she ended up explaining the incident to another employee, before asking if someone else could re-bottle her prescription.

“The [second employee] was confused and thought I was talking about the pharmacist, so she turned to say something to the pharmacist and the pharmacist put her hands in the air to show us that she had gloves on,” Jessica recalled. “I said, ‘No, she was not the one to [originally] fill my prescription, but I would like her to re-bottle it for me.’ The girl said, ‘OK, wait a few minutes.’ The pharmacist came over and did this dramatic show of how she was changing her gloves.”

Jessica said the pharmacist then handed her the medication through the drive-thru window without proper counsel.

“She didn’t apologize or acknowledge what had just happened,” Jessica shared. “Let me add [that] both medications were the first time I was receiving [them] and had notes that the patient needs counsel. That did not happen. It was a narcotic that I had never taken.”

Still, in a follow-up video, Jessica said the exchange remained civil throughout.

“There was no yelling,” she said in the clip. “I stayed calm. I wasn’t coming for her. I just wanted it done right.”

Jessica added that her gripe with CVS goes back nearly two years, claiming that she has received medications in the wrong dosage multiple times.

“I have been given the wrong dosage, [been] short on medication, [and had the wrong prescription] filled at this location prior and I was fed up and decided it was time to let the pharmacist know,” she told In The Know.

CVS has since reached out to Jessica for more information about her subpar experiences.

“A person tagged me on CVS’s Instagram. CVS then asked me to DM my phone number and address of the CVS location,” she said. “I received a call from their call center. The caller left a message that just said they heard about my experience and they would be reaching out to the leadership team in charge of that location and that if I wanted to speak to them, give them a call.”

Jessica said she was ultimately disappointed by the company’s response.

“I want CVS to really hear what consumers are saying and address it,” she said. “Our health is literally in their hands. Having to take prescription medication is stressful enough, the last thing I want to worry about is if this medication is going to make me sick because of cross-contamination and cutting corners.”

In a statement to In The Know, a representative from CVS said, “The safety of our patients is our top priority. We have policies in place to support patient and colleague safety in the filling and dispensing of prescriptions at our pharmacies, and we’ll be reinforcing the importance of following these policies with our team members.”

Updated on Dec. 6 at 11:10 a.m. ET with comments from Jessica.

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