Automatic Refills

Automatic Refills

Almost all pharmacies offer services in addition to filling your prescriptions. One of these is called Automatic Refill. It may have different names at different retail pharmacies, but the idea is the same. Each month, at the same time, your prescriptions are refilled. You do nothing to initiate these fills. How would you feel if you did not ask to be enrolled in this program, but automatically were? You find out by getting a call informing you your prescriptions are ready when you never asked for them to be filled!

That is exactly what is happening at some of the major chain pharmacies. CVS Caremark, the second largest drugstore chain, is being investigated for just this reason. Many patients and pharmacists have said that CVS would enroll people into their auto refill program without their permission. CVS adamantly denies these allegations. Their spokesperson insists that company policy “specifically directs” that the customer approves or requests enrollment into their automatic refill program. CVS pharmacists claimed that they are instructed to enroll 40% of customers in Ready Fill, their auto refill program.

By enrolling these patients, they are also billing insurance without patient consent. CVS has stated that these claims are reversed if the patient has not picked up the medication within a two week period. This is not the first investigation into CVS Caremark’s business practices. They are currently operating under two previous settlements with the federal government.

One of these settlements was the product of a whistleblower case involving pharmacists, Michael and Peppi Fowler, who worked at a mail-order pharmacy in Florida. The two claimed that they saw workers using blow dryers to remove patient labels from returned medications and reuse them. This is a violation of state health laws. CVS settled, but denied wrongdoing and only wanted to avoid any further litigation expenses.

CVS has also been accused of billing Medicare inaccurately. The beginning of any Medicare fraud investigation is the inspector general’s inquiry. There are about 50 million Americans that are covered by Medicare.

CVS is not alone in these types of allegations. Similar situations are happening at Target, Walgreens, and Rite-Aid. A Rite-Aid pharmacist even had her prescriptions refilled without her consent. And, they were not even the correct quantity. An anonymous Rite-Aid pharmacist has confirmed that they do have an auto refill quota (40%) and if they don’t meet it, they get in trouble.

Walgreens has even taken it a step farther. Doris Silsbee, 90 received a call from them letting her know that her prescription was ready for pick-up. There was only one problem. She has never been a Walgreens customer. According to Silsbee, they had the right medication and the right doctor’s name but she has never filled a prescription at Walgreens.

Be aware that you do not have to pick up these medications if you did not request or want them. You can tell them to reverse the medications and have your prescriptions filled at the pharmacy of your choice. And, if this happens to you, report it. These kind of deceptive business practices are not okay.



Moran, Chris. “Pharmacist Confirm Pressure from Management to Refill Prescriptions Automatically.” The Consumerist. The Consumerist, 25 2012. Web. 10 Nov 2012. <>.

Lifsher, Marc. “State Probes CVS Refill Allegations.” LA Times. LA Times, 16 2012. Web. 09 Nov 2012. <,0,5604990.story>.

Lazarus, David. “Target, Rite Aid, Walgreens refill drugs wtihout OK, Patients Say.” LA TImes. LA Times, 23 2012. Web. 01 Nov 2012. <,0,1228879.column>.

Terhune, Chad. “CVS Caremark has become a frequent subject of government probes.” LA Times. LA Times, 24 2012. Web. 02 Nov 2012. <,0,6138463.story>.