"Treat the disease, you win some, you lose some. Treat the patient, you always win."
~Patch Adams~

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fireside Compounding Pharmacy------

I will never recommend Fireside Compounding Pharmacy in Palm Desert, CA to anyone. Ever again. I had been using Town Center Pharmacy, also in Palm Desert, but after they made several errors (and each time acted like I was inconveniencing them by asking that the errors be made right), I switched to Fireside. At first they were fine, but after a very shoddily packaged/mailed package over the summer, and now this latest fiasco (detailed below), I am literally sickened by what has become a month long saga in trying to get an order for bioidentical hormones straight.

I posted this review of Fireside Compounding Pharmacy today on Yelp!:

I was seen in my physician's office on 12/2, and they were supposed to call in prescriptions for three different bioidentical hormones. When I returned to NC several days later, I called the Fireside to give them my credit card number (I have had to ask them at least 3 times NOT to keep the number on file). I find out the prescriptions have not been called in (I will deal with the doctor's office separately), but I had refills on two of the three hormone prescriptions (progesterone and testosterone) that I needed. The third hormone, ESTRIOL, is to be taken intravaginally, and I had not filled that prescription at Fireside before. I asked the young woman I spoke to, Amy (who had to ask me my name three times, and 3 times I had to repeat my credit card number to her) if she would call the doctor's office, get the order for the ESTRIOL, add it to the order for the other hormones and ship it to me. She said she would, and I was careful to ask her to please make sure that the vaginal applicators were to be included with the prescription, they are hard to get locally if the prescription is not filled locally.

I get the box of hormones a week later, and instead of the ESTRIOL that I needed, the box contained a 90 day supply of BI-EST, a hormone that I took at one time many months ago, but do not take currently. Amy apparently never called the doctor's office, just took it upon herself that ESTRIOL and BI-EST are the same thing (they aren't) and filled the BI-EST without ever calling the physician's office for the right prescription. If she didn't want to call the doctor's office, she should have told me that from the beginning and I would have called them myself; it would have saved me a big hassle.

I call the pharmacy, and email the doctor's office. The office talks to the pharmacy, the ESTRIOL is ordered. The pharmacy robo-calls me 12/14 to tell me the estriol is ready. I call back, explain to Michelle that there was an error and I shouldn't be charged for the estriol. She blows me off by telling me fine, if there is a problem she will call me back, but otherwise they will just ship the ESTRIOL.

A week goes by and no ESTRIOL, but I attributed it to the holiday delay in shipping. Meanwhile, my doctor ordered another compounded medication for me, and Fireside calls to tell me it's ready (and to get my credit card number.) About 20 minutes later, they call back again, they found an ESTRIOL prescription for me, and do I want that shipped too? They never bothered shipping it to me when they said they would. I explained the whole situation to them AGAIN, they tell me they have to talk to the pharmacist, and then they call me back to tell me in order to get the ESTRIOL, I have to mail them back the BI-EST so they can reuse it. Of course, the BI-EST has to be mailed back at my expense. I was told when they received the BI-EST then they would mail the ESTRIOL to me.

I get a package in this morning's mail----my compounded medication was in it, and so was the ESTRIOL------packaged incorrectly. The estriol is to be used intravaginally, but the container sent to me will not accomodate the vaginal applicators. I email the doctor's office, they call the pharmacy, pharmacy tells them the prescription was not sent in with the correct information----doctor's office tells me the prescription is written as Estriol Vaginal Cream 2.5mg/gm, apply 1/4tsp QD in the evening. Not to mention that 3 weeks ago when I asked for this prescription, I was very, very clear with the technician/assistant I talked to to PLEASE make sure that vaginal applicators were included. Pharmacy tells my doctor's office I have to send back the incorrectly packaged prescription back to them (again, at my expense) so the other prescription can be mailed. Pharmacy just calls me just to blame the doctor's office (they have filled tons of estriol prescriptions, and if they weren't sure this was supposed to be used intravaginally they should have called the doctor's office to clarify, so their blame game holds no water for me) and to tell me AGAIN that I have to mail them back their prescription, which I am doing so within the hour.

And to note, this is not the first problem I have had with this pharmacy. I got an order of about $275 worth of medications this summer, shoddily packaged in a very thin padded envelope----and it was sent MEDIA MAIL rate (which can take up to two weeks for delivery, and is ONLY to be used for books and DVDs). Very unprofessional business practice.

Two things not detailed in the Yelp! review:

  • When I was told I had to return the first "mistake" prescription to them, I was told it was so that they could reuse it. I find that very unsettling---that the pharmacy would take a prescription supposedly custom compounded for me, sent cross country twice, and then the pharmacy will pass that off to another patient. From my perspective, I would worry that it had been contaminated in some way....I was very careful not to open the jar while it was in my possession, but not everyone would be that careful. I don't know if they really would pass the prescription off to another patient, or if they would just throw it out and they lied to me just to ensure I would be maximally inconvenienced by having to mail the wrong hormone back to them (at my expense, even though I was in no way at fault for the error----I'll never figure that out!) but whatever, I would never be comfortable using any of their products again. I wish I did not have brand new jars of all my hormones from them right now, but I cannot afford to replace such a huge order at another pharmacy and throw out the products from Fireside. My deepest apologies to anyone I may have referred to Fireside Compounding Pharmacy.

  • I know I have repeatedly said in the past that compounding pharmacies are a great source of bioidentical hormone practitioner referrals, and for the most part, that is still true. However, I went on Fireside's website today and happened to notice that they have under practitioner listings a Nichole Gardner at Platt Wellness Center. They obviously do not update their website information; Platt Wellness Center is no longer at that address, and Nichole Gardner no longer practices at that office, and hasn't for quite some time. Finding a good bioidentical hormone practitioner is important to patients, and to have information on a business website that is incorrect and misleading shows a lack of concern for customers.

Please be sure to thoroughly check out any new doctor that you are considering for hormonal (or any type) of care; I have links on the right side of the blog page for state medical boards (you would be surprised at what you find!) and for the board certification status of your potential healthcare provider. I can't stress this enough, I have done research on some doctors that patients have written to me about, and some of what I have uncovered is scary!

I've had to disable the comments section on this blog because of some anonymous and troubling posts that were left several months back. However, if you have a compounding pharmacy that you have used for a while and are particularly happy with, drop me a line at holyhormones@gmail.com and I will compile a list to post here on the blog. Good customer service, and a passion for bioidentical hormone optimization for patients deserves to be recognized!