June 21, 2024

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What their work days look like

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Signs offering COVID-19 vaccinations are seen outside of a CVS pharmacy in Washington, DC.

Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

Many pharmacy employees at some of the largest U.S. drugstore chains say they’re reaching a breaking point. 

On top of verifying, filling and dispensing prescriptions, pharmacists and support staff are responsible for administering vaccines, fixing insurance issues, transferring prescriptions to other pharmacies and tending to dozens of patients in stores and over the phone, among other tasks. Those workers have said they are concerned that companies like Walgreens and CVS are placing unreasonable demands on them, without providing enough staffing or resources to safely execute tasks. 

Frustrated by what they describe as increasing workloads, understaffing and cuts to their hours, pharmacy staff from Walgreens locations around the country and CVS stores in the Kansas City area have walked off the job in recent weeks — and some employees are planning to walk out again from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1.

CNBC spoke to employees from both Walgreens and CVS, including a pharmacist, two pharmacy technicians and a store manager, about what their typical workday looks like. The employees, all of whom requested anonymity for fear of retaliation, described ending their shifts exhausted after spending hours juggling dozens of tasks around the pharmacy without enough extra hands to support them.

The two companies were the biggest pharmacies in the U.S. based on prescription drug market share in 2022. Both CVS and Walgreens operate around 9,000 retail store locations across the U.S. 

CVS has more than 30,000 pharmacists and 70,000 pharmacy technicians, while rival Walgreens has more than 86,000 health-care service providers, including pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and other health-related professionals. CVS pharmacists make $61.44 an hour on average, while Walgreens pharmacists make $53.85 per hour on average, according to employment website Indeed.

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2023-10-27 09:44:00

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