Health care

Pharmacist shortage causing long waits at drug stores across Mass.

Saad Dinno, the president of the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association, said since the pandemic, pharmacists are dealing with a heavier workload as they deal with everything from vaccines to an increase in demand for medications

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Picking up a prescription after work is no longer a fast errand. Customers across Massachusetts are experiencing long wait times at their local pharmacies due to a lack of staffing and it is happening at the busiest time of the year. 

At a CVS on Harvard Street in Brookline, customers said they have waited over an hour for medications only to be told they are still not ready.

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“When I ask what’s going on, it’s not even in the queue yet and the pharmacists just look miserable,” Carrie Wager said. 

At another CVS on Centre Street in Jamaica Plain, customers said they are also dealing with long wait times. A handwritten sign asks customers to be patient due to current staffing. 

“I think it’s a burnout situation,” Saad Dinno, the president of the Massachusetts Pharmacists Association said. 

Dinno said since the pandemic, pharmacists are dealing with a heavier workload as they deal with everything from vaccines to an increase in demand for medications. He said it is hitting the big retail chains the hardest. 

“Pharmacists and pharmacists teams are doing more than we ever did in the past,” Dinno said. 

In a statement, a spokesman for CVS said in part, “We face unprecedented demand and a clinical workforce shortage in the healthcare industry and are making targeted investments in our retail pharmacy business in direct response to feedback.”

At Keyes Drug, a small, family-owned pharmacy in Newton, they are seeing an increase in customers. 

“We have people transferring just because a pharmacy has closed just because a pharmacist did not show up or closed or there’s not enough help so their pharmacy can’t open,” pharmacist Ray Dinno said. 

No matter where customers are getting their prescriptions filled, pharmacists said ongoing drug shortages everywhere have also kept them on the phone more.

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