Double Trouble

My first encounter of prescription forgery was during my rookie years as a relief pharmacist at Shoppers Drug Mart on a Saturday morning, in a not-so-good neighbourhood.

I was trying to decipher a doctor’s order written on a blue prescription pad. Something was odd – I could read everything clearly without squinting my eyes.

It said:

“Penicillin VK 300mg oral Take 1 tablet every  6 hours for 7 days” and

“Percocet Take 1 tablet every 6 hours as needed, Qty: 30”

I thought what kind of a doctor had the time to spell out the word “tablet” instead of using the usual latin short form and….then it hit me. Oh crap. This was a forgery. So obvious.

My superstar technician was busy processing the prescriptions and then I gently whispered to his ears:  “I think this is a fake prescription.” I was frantically trying to recall what I was supposed to do in this scenario. I had read something from Pharmacy Connection few months earlier that safety was my number one concern, so I knew I shouldn’t do anything stupid. But I also knew I shouldn’t hand over the Percocet.

Then I came up with a lame excuse. I told the “patient” I had to order the drug in and it wasn’t going to be here until Monday. He knew that I knew.

We all pretended to be busy for a little bit and I also remembered that I should try to retain some evidence. So I instructed my pharmacy technician to make a copy of the prescription. Back then, the pharmacy didn’t have its own photocopy machine, so my pharmacy technician had to walk over to the post office to make a copy. The “patient” stopped him and said he wanted his prescription back and left.

Then few hours laters, another woman with a cast on her arm came with the same prescription pad with the same handwriting. It was just for Percocet this time.

It was odd. She didn’t seem to speak English. Her cast gave the impression that she was indeed in pain. But it was the same prescription pad and the same handwriting. I had no way of verifying the authenticity at the time and had a strong gut feeling it was another forgery.  I used the same excuse – that I had to order the medication in. This time, she left the prescription with me and left. I told her she could come back on Monday. Then I left a BIG note for the full time pharmacist.

I called back on Monday and asked what happened. They told me she never came back to pick up her prescription. I didn’t know if they ever called the police. But I was right. It was a fake.

I felt like someone must have been targeting me or the particular pharmacy, knowing that I was not a familiar pharmacist in that location and looked rather inexperienced and could be easily fooled. Well, I proofed you wrong.


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My name is Cynthia Leung and I am a practicing pharmacist in Kingston Ontario, Canada. This blog is for me to share my ideas, opinions and perspectives on how medications are used in our health care system. Note that these posts are my own opinions and do not represent the opinions of my current or former employers and / or organizations that I may belong to. Any possible case scenarios described in my posts would be modified to maintain patient confidentiality. This blog is not a platform for professional advise for patients or health care providers and the content is not meant to support any clinical decisions or replace professional opinions. Also the images are either taken or created by the author, or adapted with permission. I hope you will enjoy reading my posts!

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