Pharmacists have walked out at hundreds of Walgreens locations nationwide in a dispute over working conditions. The workers claim current pressures have led to patients waiting “days and weeks” without their prescriptions.
Some stores have temporarily closed due to the lack of staff, although the majority of the 9,000 nationwide Walgreens stores remain open. Pharmacy staff began the walkout on Monday, with organizers telling CNN the action is expected to last until Wednesday.
A pharmacist also spoke to Fox Business anonymously about the reasons for action. “In an industry where a missed decimal point, a missed number, or a letter could mean life or death for a patient, it really becomes a dangerous situation when you’re understaffed and overworked,” they said.
“It used to be if we got to 20 prescriptions behind it was an emergency, and now we’re well over a thousand… that means patients are going days and weeks without their needed medications.”
Walgreens insists the walkouts have only caused “a small number of pharmacies” to experience operational disruptions. In a statement, the chain said: “We are engaged and listening to the concerns raised by some of our team members.”
“We are committed to ensuring that our entire pharmacy team has the support and resources necessary to continue to provide the best care to our patients while taking care of their own well-being.”
Although the walkouts have led to some temporary closures, the pharmacy chain is also facing shutterings of a much more permanent type. The company has shared plans to close down around 150 locations nationwide as part of a cost-savings strategy.
Chief executive officer Rosalind Brewer said during an earnings call earlier this year that Walgreens is “taking immediate actions to optimize profitability for our US healthcare segment.” It comes after parent company, Walgreens Boots Alliance, laid off 500 US workers.