News Release

Pharmacy Walkouts


Dozens of pharmacists at Walgreens and CVS have staged walkouts this month, and more walkouts are planned in coming weeks to protest unsafe working conditions in pharmacies. 

    Ehret is a professor and co-director of the Mental Health Program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. 

Ehret—who is now a faculty member at a school of pharmacy and works to help provide pharmacies with injectable medications—previously worked at CVS for nearly 15 years as a part-time floater pharmacist. She told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “I’ve been in [the strikers’] shoes. I have that experience of what these people are going through and I know what it’s like in the ‘frontline trenches’ day-to-day. Post-Covid [pandemic], the workload at community pharmacies has skyrocketed due to a host of factors,” including the fact that pharmacy benefit managers are rolling back reimbursements, meaning pharmacies are making less money overall. “Independent pharmacies can’t afford it,” Ehret said. In addition, until recently, the federal government was reimbursing pharmacies for Covid vaccines, and “now that’s gone by the wayside.” 

She added: “Before, if you walked into any Walgreens and most CVS’s, there would be some shift overlap where two to three pharmacists were on shift. Now [pharmacies] have drastically reduced that, and most times there is never overlap—just one pharmacist at all times. They have also cut technician hours. Before, you might have had 120 tech hours per week, but now there are 80, let’s say. So [pharmacists] are doing more and have less help. 

“Pharmacists are told to come in early and stay late, but they’re not getting paid for that. There is no one to cover you if you need to call out. We’re seeing a lot of burnout—a lot of people leaving community pharmacies and leaving the profession altogether. [The pharmacies] think that cutting pharmacy hours will help, but that means you have to get it all done in less time. These decisions were meant to be helpful, but they are backfiring. These decisions are made at a corporate level, versus [the experience of] boots on the ground.

“We went to [pharmacy] school to help patients. Now it’s about trying to fill more prescriptions or make more phone calls, and it became a point system: you get points for how fast you can fill prescriptions and how fast [patients] pick them up. You lose what you went to school for: to assist people. 

“We can expect more walkouts. People are angry.”