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Too big a pill to swallow at CVS

Posted Tue October 31, 2006 12:00 pm, by Alexandra S. written to CVS

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My husband told me to get his ampicillin prescription refilled while he was at work, so at about 3:15 pm today I went to the CVS site and "dropped it off" online.

At around 5:20 (allowing two hours) I drove up there with my little boy, and after waiting in line for about five minutes I was told that they were behind and I'd have to wait another 20 minutes. So I did...I simply put my son into a cart and walked around with him and browsed.

When I went to get my husband's prescription I took one look at the bottle and saw what I would describe as "horse pills," and I don't recall ever seeing his ampicillin pills that big. My husband CANNOT take anything that big, as he has issues with choking, and I pointed that out to the cashier (I didn't get her name...she has dark hair and was wearing a bright orange T-shirt). She more or less shrugged and said something about a different manufacturer.

I refused to pay for them. I told her that I wasn't going to buy them, and I just left them there. No way was I going to waste money on something my husband couldn't take!

My husband never had issues like this at the Wal-Mart or Kmart pharmacies...we may wind up going back to one of those places.

I don't know exactly who makes the pills, but issues like this (too big a pill to swallow) need to be taken into account. I don't know how things work behind the scenes at a pharmacy, but if it's the manufacturer, perhaps CVS should look into another manufacturer.


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by wendyc Posted Wed December 20, 2006 @ 8:01 PM

Hello, I am sort of having the same problem but mine is a capsule. Why
DO they say not to crush cut or whatever? I mean I understand if it
has a gel or whatever.. so tell me.. on the Ampicillin TR
capsules..which DO get stuck in my throat... can I not break/take it
apart, put in a bit of water.. let's say a 5 tablespoons and drink
it? or am I asking for a problem? All pills make me gag.. but capsules
are the worst! they get stuck and my GOD you would think I was gonna
die from all the gagging. I hope your doctor at least listens to you..
Mine, I know I told 3 times that I have a hard time with them... yet
he insists on the pills.. if someone knows...... what is the WORST
that can happen if I do the above? thanks!Oh and before I get jumped
for not changing docs or whatever.. I live in a super rural area, he
is closest.. and the best I can do for now. I would have to travel
about 60 miles each way to get to another doc.. and with gas prices
and living on limited money..... no way can I do that..

by LK Posted Wed November 8, 2006 @ 8:11 PM

I too have the problem of being unable to swallow ANY medication in
pill form. I get so dishearted when I try to explain this to Doctors,
Doctors who were NOT THERE when I was in the fifth grade and TRYING to
swallow sulfur tablets, penicillin and 12 aspirins per day to fight
the Rheumatic Fever I had. I am 53 and am so paronoid to swallow a
pill, I cry just thinking about it. The medications of today ALL come
in pill form and I never hear of concideration being shown to persons
who are like me. As for that attitude at CVS. Thats normal. I once
told a cashier that a gentleman put a Mach Razor under his coat and
was walking out the store. Her reply: I'll go tell the manager, thats
not my job. Haven't been back since and do not intend too. Thanks for
the info and your concerns....LK


No, not ALL meds are only in pill form. by Tina N Wed November 8, 2006 @ 11:34 PM

man with razor under his coat by Mike S. Mon June 1, 2009 @ 12:01 AM

by Alexandra Posted Sun November 5, 2006 @ 9:24 PM

They were capsules, and pretty big ones at that.

Here's what we did: We got the Rx filled at Kmart, and they called
CVS and told them to cancel the Rx (you know, to prevent people

My husband made sure Kmart still carried the kind they always did
before he got it filled there.


You did not SAY "capsules"... by Tina Newman Mon November 6, 2006 @ 9:33 AM

What "double dipping"?? by Tina N Wed November 8, 2006 @ 9:49 AM

by Dino K. Posted Sun November 5, 2006 @ 6:44 PM


by tracy Posted Sat November 4, 2006 @ 4:59 PM

I just joined this site, and I agree that some people are way too
harsh to letter writers. Sometimes, it is obviously warranted. Other
times, not so much. I wonder if some of you aren't out there eagerly
awaiting your next victim to bash.


by silvrcraze Posted Sat November 4, 2006 @ 4:08 PM

Wow, I just joined this site and the aggression that people show
towards letters is unbelievable. It really makes me not want to post

Nowhere does she say she STOMPED OUT OF THE store. She stated she
wasn't going to buy them. I'm sure EVERYONE has done this. You get
up to the register and something is priced wrong or you realize
something is wrong with it and choose not to purchase it.

I too wouldn't have bought them since you can't return them. Not
knowing if you can split them and already knowing that they would be
too big to for her husband to swallow would be enough reason to not
make an immediate purchase. Most pharmacies carry different brands so
you can ask for another if they have it or you can pay the extra money
and get the non generic brand. You can find out which brand would be
best for your husband and call pharmacies to see if they carry that

I don't see any reason to get mad at CVS though because it's not their
fault which pills would come up as their generic brands. It's all
about which pharmacutical companies they deal with. I don't feel the
need to bash anyone, jump to conclusions, or put words in anyone's
mouth over this. A simple statement is all that's needed to explain
how CVS isn't at fault.


by Tina Newman Posted Sat November 4, 2006 @ 2:05 PM

My dad's ampicillin came in reasonably sized gray capsules. I can't
believe the doctor would prescribe something that a patient, that he's
SUPPOSED to know, could not take.


by Daniela E Posted Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:15 AM

he/she is the one who would presumably know you husband's issues
w/swallowing and I've seen books in the dr. office that have pictures
of what the pill they're prescribing looks like.

I'm sure there are alternatives to the exact Rx he wrote, so talk with
him/her about it.


by Andrew Lenahan Posted Thu November 2, 2006 @ 11:54 AM

Quick note to other responders: NOT EVERY PILL CAN/SHOULD BE SPLIT!
They might be time-release capsules, or the kind with gel in them.

The OP probably has a point, but I think they should have at least
taken the pills home and attempted to use them as directed. I don't
know what's wrong with her husband, but ampicillin is a potentially
life-saving drug and it's important not to miss or delay doses.


by tickytack Posted Thu November 2, 2006 @ 8:56 AM

"He has issues with choking"

Gee... and I thought I was the only one.

Your letter is completely misplaced. CVS doesn't make the pills; it
merely dispenses them.

"Perhaps CVS should look into another manufacturer".

Uh, sorry, darling... pills are pills.

Here's an idea for you. CUT THE PILL IN HALF WITH A KNIFE.

How silly do you have to be to not think of that?


Oooh - almost forgot... by tickytack Thu November 2, 2006 @ 9:00 AM

What is SO? n/t by Daniela E Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:14 AM

SO= Significant Other by rxgirl Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:33 AM

thanks! by Daniela E Sun November 12, 2006 @ 2:33 AM

not necessarily by AFPheonix Sun November 5, 2006 @ 3:53 PM

by MA Loper Posted Wed November 1, 2006 @ 9:41 AM


I hate to say this, but if that's what your husband's Dr. prescribed
for him, that is what he is supposed to take, REGARDLESS of whether
you feel the size of the pill is inappropriate for him.

And at the end of the day, CVS didn't make the pills, the drug
company did, so getting upset and sending angry messages to CVS when
they didn't write the script and didn't manufacture the pill is kind
of pointless. Bottom line, it's not the pharmacy's fault.

I'm not sure how often your hubby has had antibiotics before, but most
often (for some odd reason) antibiotics frequently come as "big horse
pills." If your husband truly has an issue with choking, his Dr.
should know this and should probably be prescribing his meds in oral
suspension form, rather than in pills.

As I have a young child, I know that many antibiotics on the market
now come in oral suspensions for little kids who are unable to swallow
the pills, but you have to discuss this with the Dr.as the doseage may
not be sufficient for what your husband needs.

I know several of the commenters suggested a pill splitter, but esp.
with antibiotics, you have to be very careful not to split or crush
them because they are coated with medicine to help it absorb better.
It would state on the bottle whether this is an issue, as well as in
the leaflet that I know CVS offers with all it's prescriptions, but
again, this is something that needs to be reviewed with your Dr.

I would suggest talking with your husband's Dr. personally if you are
going to be responsible for obtaining his meds for him so that you
know what you should expect. Otherwise, I have a bad feeling that
you'll just continue to have frustrating experiences like this every
time you have to fill a new script.


Exactly what I wanted to say by Starlight22203 Wed November 1, 2006 @ 12:18 PM

I wrote the same thing before reading this... by Daniela E Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:17 AM

by Firebrat Tracy Posted Wed November 1, 2006 @ 9:33 AM

I'm no pharmacist, and I don't play one on TV, but common sense should
have come into play here.

The pharmacy cashier is *not* the pharmacist. While she should have
been able to assist you in figuring out why the pills were different,
the person to ask would have been the *actual* pharmacist. I know at
my local CVS, the pharmacy tech is helpful and proactive, but sadly,
this isn't always the case.

For example, I had been taking a certain prescription for years, and
had always filled them at one specific CVS. One day, I picked up my
refill and they were tablets and not capsules. Not a big deal, but
when I asked the cashier why, she advised me that there was, indeed, a
manufacturing change. I didn't refuse to pay for them and stomp out of
the store in a snit. I bought them and went on my merry way. I realize
that it's different in your case, because your husband couldn't take
the 'horse' pills, but with a little communication and patience on
your part, I'm sure the issue could have been resolved without leaving
the store without the medicine.


Allegra? Neurontin? by rxgirl Wed November 1, 2006 @ 1:18 PM

Allegra, actually! I keep forgetting you're a pharmacist! N/T by Firebrat Tracy Wed November 1, 2006 @ 1:28 PM

Yeah that was kind of weird.... by rxgirl Wed November 1, 2006 @ 1:42 PM

Actually I am not a Pharmacist..... by rxgirl Wed November 1, 2006 @ 11:55 PM

but common sense should have come into play here. by d K Sat November 4, 2006 @ 3:17 PM

by Harleycat Posted Wed November 1, 2006 @ 8:11 AM

You should have asked to speak with the pharmacist. It is possible
that it was a new manufacturer and that's why they were bigger. He
may have been able to call your husband's doctor a get a DAW
prescription for the brand name only. As RxGirl said, the liquid is an
option too.

As someone else said, you may very well have the same problem at
Wal-Mart or KMart. Most of these large pharmacies buy in bulk from
whoever is offering the best price at the time. It could be that this
manufacturer is offering the best price.

by Cass Posted Wed November 1, 2006 @ 7:55 AM

Your husband should speak to his doctor. The doctor can specify on a
prescription "DAW" (dispense as written) so that the pharmacy will not
use a generic brand of the drug, which sounds like might be the case


Generics by S. Brown Wed November 1, 2006 @ 11:42 AM

by Mike R. Posted Wed November 1, 2006 @ 1:19 AM

The question I would ask is, now that this CVS has your script, where
else are you going to go to get it filled?

This may be a big pill to swallow, but you may have to return to CVS
to get your prescription filled. (Couldn't help but say that).


Re: Too big a pill to swallow at CVS by RedheadWGlasses Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:43 PM
by Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:46 PM

Forgive me, are you saying I dont have to use a paring knife to split
my pills?? I had no clue pill cutters existed!! Awesome info, going
to look for one next time I pick up a prescription.


by RedheadWGlasses Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 11:02 PM


Grrrr This site annoys me sometimes by RedheadWGlasses Tue October 31, 2006 @ 11:05 PM

be careful by Katy M Wed November 1, 2006 @ 11:56 AM

$5 - $10? by Chris Pattullo Thu November 2, 2006 @ 2:16 PM

Don't they have the right dose? by Daniela E Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:21 AM

A couple of reasons Daniela... by rxgirl Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:38 AM

by Lia Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:39 PM

Just so you know, the pills are safe to split and take that way. It
won't make them any less effective.

Perhaps before making the decision for your husband, you could have
taken the time to contact him and told him how big they were before
making the decision yourself. Do you know for an undeniable fact he
didn't want them?

Yes, I know how big the pills are. I had to take them for strep
throat, when my tonsils were swollen to the point I could barely
breathe, let alone swallow fluids. How do you think I ended up taking
them? By splitting them in half.

I can only hope that whatever illness your husband has won't be too
affected by your decision to deny him the medicine he needs.


Well, I'm pretty sure... by Ree Wed November 1, 2006 @ 5:28 AM

Yes by Daniela E Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:25 AM

Correct by rxgirl Sat November 4, 2006 @ 12:42 AM

The ampicillin is for acne by Alexandra Sun November 5, 2006 @ 9:27 PM

Yes and.. by Lia Tue November 7, 2006 @ 10:13 AM

by `~`Leanne`~` Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:33 PM

Call the pharmacist back and see if you can pulverize the pill or not.
It sounds like the big pink pill antibiotic that was prescribed to me
a while back and I had to laugh at the size of it until they said I
could crush it. But ask first. Maybe even see if there is
information on it online and see if you can call other pharmacies so
you dont have to wait. Some CVS's take calls until midnight or later
so you should be able to get an answer on that.


by Gino Version 1.2 Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:23 PM

The issue was not with the cashier in the bright orange shirt with
black hair. Saying "I refused to pay for them. I told her that I
wasn't going to buy them, and I just left them there. No way was I
going to waste money on something my husband couldn't take!" and
stomping out of the store accomplished exactly what?
You should have spoken to the Pharmacist(in a white lab coat usually).
Ampicillin comes in two doses 250 mg and 500 mg. If your husband
needed 500 mg, the pharmacist could simply call the doctor and get a
new script for double the amount of pills with the smaller, easier to
swallow 250 mg dose. Problem Solved.
There's no guarantee that WalMart,CVS or Kmart pharmacies consitently
use the same manufacturer and you could well have gotten the same
results there.

As for splitting pills, that's something you need to talk to the
pharmacist about. Some medicine is coated or has time releaed
properties and splitting them could cause promblems with getting the
wrong dose.
Safety (and asking the pharmasist) pays and costs nothing. Especially
when medicine is concerned.

There are other alternatives to this pill his doctor could prescribe.
Other similar pills or IV drips or even shots that would avoid the
need to swallow pills. But as a consumer, you have to work with your
health care team or they can't help you at all.


Yet another... by JuliePie Wed November 1, 2006 @ 2:08 PM
by gb Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 8:58 PM

Be aware that if you have insurance for your prescriptions you may
have trouble getting another one if that prescription was already


Too big a pill to swallow at CVS by mopac Mon November 13, 2006 @ 11:54 AM

by S. Brown Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 8:50 PM

I'm suspecting that these pills are a generic version and
unfortunately, from time-to-time, pharmacies get them from different
manufacturers. As another poster suggested, buy a pill splitter as
there is no guarantee if you go to another pharmacy that you won't
have the same problem.


by *Brenda* Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 7:25 PM

Ever heard of a pill splitter?

by Alexandra Posted Tue October 31, 2006 @ 6:40 PM

Wonder if I should write another one. I dunno...they'll probably
figure it out since the CVS is in the town I live in.


Brother by Bill R Tue October 31, 2006 @ 8:32 PM

The town I live in has at least by rxgirl Tue October 31, 2006 @ 10:30 PM

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