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Pharmacist concerned as CVS, Walgreens reduce hours

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A local pharmacist and educator say that decisions by CVS and Walgreens to reduce their pharmacy hours nationwide could be a signal that there is a shortage in pharmacy technicians.

“I do think it’s related to the fact that we are not able to get pharmacists and technicians to cover some of these shifts in the stores and they’ve had to cut back on hours,” said Dr. Veronica Vernon, assistant professor of pharmacy practice, Butler University.

“We are NOT adjusting pharmacy hours due to staffing shortages,” CVS said in a statement emailed to News 8. “Decisions about each pharmacy’s hours of operation are based on patient traffic and needs, prescription volume, and community access.”

CVS plans to change hours in two-thirds of its locations nationwide by March. Walgreens is also following suit.

“We have at times had to adjust store or pharmacy hours at some of our locations as we work to balance staffing and resources in the market to best meet our patient and customer demand. Staffing challenges have impacted retailers, healthcare entities and countless other industries over the past 12-plus months,” a Walgreens spokesperson said in a statement also emailed to News 8.

Pharmacist technicians answer patient questions and take phone calls, a shortage of them shifts the work load onto Pharmacists.

“If you are having to fill prescriptions, answer the phone, take requests and calls and questions from prescribers and patients, do vaccines do other tasks and try to meet certain metrics in the pharmacy, that’s incredibly stressful,” Vernon said.

Pharmacy technicians have to be licensed by the Indiana Board of Pharmacy, and in order to get a license they have to go through training.

Technicians are leaving the industry for other higher paying jobs because they can’t afford to pay the fees required for their licensing.

“It’s an investment to pay for this exam and maintain your credentialing up front, especially when you look at other industries where you can make $18 an hour, $20 an hour working at a retail facility,” Vernon said.

Vernon is worried there could be a major shortage of pharmacy workers in the coming years.