If You Use This Common Medication, Walmart Has an Urgent New Warning
You could have a hard time getting this filled at the company's pharmacies.
Whether for their vast variety of merchandise or for their guaranteed low prices, Walmart is many people's go-to stop for every and any household item. But many people also utilize the retailer when it comes to their health and wellness needs. Walmart has more more than 5,000 pharmacy locations across the U.S., making it an obvious choice for consumers who want to pick up their prescriptions while also doing their grocery shopping. But if you frequently take advantage of this retailer's pharmacies, you might want to also take note of a new urgent warning from the company. Read on to find out what Walmart is alerting consumers to right now.
Walmart fills more prescriptions than most other retailers in the U.S.
Walmart offers a number of services through its pharmacies. You can get your COVID vaccines, have an eye exam, or even get your teeth cleaned at some of this retailer's locations. But one of its most used services is filling prescriptions, especially since the creation of its $4 generic savings program in 2006. Besides Walgreens and CVS, Walmart had the highest ranking market share for prescriptions out of any retailer in the U.S. in 2021, according to Statista.
"Pharmacists at my local Walmart take a personal interest in my health," one Walmart pharmacy customer wrote on ConsumerAffairs. "They take time to discuss my prescriptions and health issues with me especially if they sense a problem."
But the company has recently started blocking prescriptions for one common medication.
You might have trouble getting certain stimulant prescriptions filled at your local Walmart, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal on April 27. The company confirmed that it has blocked some prescriptions for Adderall and other stimulants from certain telehealth providers like Done, a startup which was founded in 2019.
"Some Done-affiliated prescribers have been blocked by Walmart, and individual pharmacists have refused to fill prescriptions from Done-affiliated prescribers," Walmart told the news outlet. "To date, Walmart has not yet made a decision to block or unblock all Done-affiliated prescribers."
According to The Wall Street Journal, some Done clinicians reported having their prescriptions blocked by Walmart starting in the summer of 2021. People familiar with the company's internal policy told the news outlet that it struggled so much with Walmart's pharmacies that it stopped its clinicians from sending prescriptions to the retailer. But in March 2022, Done allowed providers who hadn't been flagged by Walmart previously to submit prescriptions to the retail giant again and those have been filled.
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Adderall prescriptions have increased significantly in the last few years.
Adderall, which is most commonly prescribed to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a Schedule II controlled substance, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This means it is considered to be a drug that has "high abuse potential" but is still accepted for medical use. The FDA advises that amphetamines, such as Adderall, should be "prescribed or dispensed sparingly."
"Administration of amphetamines for prolonged periods of time may lead to drug dependence and must be avoided," the agency says. "Misuse of amphetamine may cause sudden death and serious cardiovascular adverse events."
And while this classification is supposed to help regulate access to these medications, the rise and normalization of online telehealth services amid the COVID pandemic has seemingly made it easier to obtain stimulants. According to pharmaceutical research provider Iqvia Holdings Inc., prescriptions of Adderall dispensed in the U.S. rose to 41.1 million last year, which was more than 10 percent higher than what it was in 2020, per The Wall Street Journal.
Other pharmacies have been delaying or blocking telehealth prescriptions.
But it's not just Walmart blocking these prescriptions. There have been individual CVS and Walgreens locations that have also blocked or delayed prescriptions from Done providers, The Wall Street Journal reported. At least two doctors that have worked for this telehealth startup confirmed to the news outlet that they were interviewed by CVS over prescription concerns. A CVS spokesperson said it has a controlled-substance compliance group that flags and interviews clinicians in regards to "potentially excessive prescribing practices."
And, it's not just Done either. Cerebral, another online mental health company founded in 2019, has also had certain prescriptions for Adderall and other control substances blocked and delayed by pharmacies, people familiar with the company's operations told The Wall Street Journal. The news outlet reported in March that some nurse practitioners at both Cerebral and Done say they've felt pressured to prescribe stimulants like Adderall, even though they felt like the evaluations weren't long enough to properly diagnose ADHD. But both companies said they simply encourage providers to use best practices.
"There have been incidents where prescriptions have been temporarily delayed by pharmacies due to confusion around today's telehealth policies," Cerebral told The Wall Street Journal. "This is an industrywide issue that we've seen and experienced with pharmacies across the country."