HOUSTON, TX – A local pharmacy has taken a novel approach to meet the need of patients’ hectic schedules. Whereas most pharmacies disperse medication on a first-come, first-serve basis, this pharmacy has recognized an area where speed is of the essence: psychotropic medications.
“As far as I’m concerned, psychotropic medications are the ones we should be filling the most quickly. Pharmacy emergencies and ED emergencies are completely different beasts. We do not need the manic guy buying all of aisle 4 because he had to wait 15 minutes for his mood stabilizer. We do not need the manic girl who’s with the manic guy yelling at us because the manic guy is buying all of aisle 4. It’s really all about efficiency here.”
One pharmacist shared the origins of the express lane for psychotropic medications.
“It all started the day a woman with schizophrenia came in to get her medication. We were immediately informed by her screaming that she had to wait too long, saying ‘[She] of all people needed her medication the most.’ What started out as a solid soliloquy turned into a really powerful dialogue between her and herself. She taught us something that day—out of all people, she needed her medication the most. Sometimes you get messages in the strangest places,” he said, with no reference to ideas of reference.
We realized certain things can wait in the interest of the community. We realized that people with diabetes are willing to sit and wait for their blood pressure medicine, because they are generally very good at sitting for years at a time and very willing to continue sitting.
“You’ve heard of ‘Ambien zombies,’ right? In the pharmacy, it’s what we see when insomniacs don’t have their Ambien. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between drug addicts and insomniacs, but the insomniac drooling and bloodshot eyes are distinctly different from drug-addict drooling and bloodshot eyes. It’s a very different look of desperation. These people are definitely looking for their next fix—bed. And by ‘bed,’ I mean Ambien.”
“I can’t tell you how many ADD patients we’ve had who came to drop off their prescription, told us they would wait the 20 minutes, and then never came back. That’s just poor business practice all around: we lose the money, we’ve wasted our time, and there’s some patient walking around starting 11 projects he’ll never finish. There are real people out there who need to finish projects.”
“Just last week, a girl with ADD who was waiting too long started making a to-do list for her to-do list. It was really gut-wrenching to watch someone suffering like that.”
“There’s one guy with OCD… when he comes in for his meds, we tell him ‘15 minutes.’ If we try to give him the meds before 15 minutes, he’s there with a stopwatch to tell us it’s only been 14 minutes and 33 seconds. When we went past 15 minutes once—well, we don’t really want to revisit that day. We’re still trying to manage our own obsessions about his compulsions. We need this lane.”
One pharmacist admitted to potential adverse effects of the express lane.
“Now, we get a lot of people who come in pretending to be crazy just to get ahead of the line. Which is admittedly crazy in and of itself, I suppose… so maybe there is no downside.”
“Have you ever had to watch a girl come in for her antidepressant and then try to stifle her tears for 20 minutes while she lists life affirmations aloud? You don’t want to be here for that. But we do want her to want to be here… existentially speaking. And she needs drugs for that. Urgently.”
The pharmacy is also considering a self-checkout lane for patients with 10 medications or less.