4313175763_customer_is_always_right_xlarge

Next time you walk into the pharmacy and your prescription has run out, your medication is overdue, you forgot to pick it up on time or have missed the last few doses — don’t shout at the pharmacist! It is not their fault and sometimes they just can’t help you.

There’s something to be said for old adages and there’s one in particular that’s never far from my mind, you see, I’m a pharmacist and people come in and out of my pharmacy all day long. I’m reminded daily of the adage “the customer is always right”, which is correct or at least should be. Unfortunately, in Israel, when you go into the pharmacy for your prescriptions there’s one small thing that most people don’t realize, you are not the customer – you are the patient! Kupat Holim is actually the customer so it’s they who are always right – and not you! Usually this news does not go down very well so before you start shouting obscenities on your next visit, here are some tips from me, your friendly pharmacist:

Of course I’m the customer! If I’m not, who is?? Kupat Holim is the customer when it comes to prescription medication, they are the ones who are paying the bulk of your medication bill. What you pay is only a contribution. They have rules and regulations and I wish I could circumvent them – but I can’t or I won’t get paid

If I shout at you will you change your mind? No, the laws are governed by the Ministry of Health so I won’t be able to change that. I know we have become accustomed to yelling in Israel to get our way – please stop doing this at me, not everything is negotiable. Small people on power trips might make you jump through hoops – this does not apply to your pharmacist, if we jump through the hoop we may fall flat on our face.

If I’m hysterical what will you do? I will give you a tissue, try to calm your down and send you on your way with the telephone number of your Kupat Holim.

But it’s an emergency!? (sob, cry, hysteria) The Ministry of health should allow emergency supply, as it does in England and Australia, but they don’t and in fact they monitor us to make sure we comply with all the rules. If we disregard the rule book they can fine us or worse suspend our license. We really are sorry about this and wish we could help.

Aren’t rules made to be broken? Not this one I’m afraid. It is a pain but it ensures that all medicine are taken care of properly and it avoids abuse.

Just because I’m not the customer does that mean that I’m never right? I don’t believe in never but……in this case…..the answer will normally be yes.

What if I just need some advice? In this case, you are always right, you can ask all the questions you need and I’ll be happy to offer my advice and suggestions, from a pharmaceutical point of view, of course.

So, what is your best advice? My best advice is to keep track of your medication and set yourself reminders so prescriptions don’t expire before you have raced over to the pharmacy and you won’t risk running out and missing doses.

Go on, be honest, how many of you have made that mad 11th hour dash to the pharmacy in the last few months?

I’m an Aussie trained and registered pharmacist in Israel, and have been a retail pharmacist for 20 years. My pharmacy is in Bet Shemesh and accepts prescriptions from all Kupot Holim but I also own and operate www.israelpharm.com, offering US citizens access to better priced medication online. I can’t give you those out of date or missing prescriptions but if you have any pharmaceutical related questions you can ask me anything at saul@israelpharm.com and I’ll be happy to advise.