SPRINGFIELD- A bizarre rule in Illinois law has left many people “out in the cold” when it comes to picking up their medicine from their local pharmacy. Under current law, licensed pharmacy staff must be present when customers pay for and receive their prescriptions, which means that when the pharmacist goes home for the night, customers can’t pick up their medicine – even though it has already been dispensed, filled, packaged, and labeled with the customer’s name on it.
That will all change under legislation filed by State Senator Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) and passed by the Illinois Senate on March 30. Rose’s legislation will allow cash register clerks and other store employees to go ahead and process the sale, even though the licensed staff has already gone home for the night.
“How many of us have been frustrated trying to pick up a ‘script’ at the pharmacy only to find that while the retail portion of the store is open, the pharmacy counter is not? You know your medicine is sitting there, just on the other side of the window, it even has your name on it, but the clerk at the cash register can’t sell it to you,” said Rose. “This is especially frustrating for those who work late, second shift, etc. You try and run by to pick up the script on the way home, but the pharmacy counter is closed,” he continued.
A shortage of licensed pharmacists and staff has led to many stores cutting back hours and leaving patients in the lurch. This is even more true in the rural areas of Illinois.
Additionally, while the current rule can be a major inconvenience for consumers, it can also be an extremely serious medical issue for those who require access to critical, life-saving medicines.
“In fact, in a conversation just this week with a working mom, she told me how she missed the pharmacy hours by just a few minutes after getting off work late. Unfortunately for her, that meant that she missed picking up necessary asthma medication for her child. Ultimately, she had to drive hours to find an open pharmacy to fill the script. This is exactly why this legislation is needed,” said Senator Rose.
Rose’s bill, Senate Bill 1889, now awaits action in the Illinois House.