Berkeleyside reader and Berkeley resident David Lerman wonders why there’s no 24-hour pharmacy in Berkeley:

My latest Berkeley rant is regarding the limited hours of pharmacy service in our city.

Pharmacies keep banker’s hours. There is no 24-hour pharmacy in Berkeley. I don’t think there is one in Oakland either.  Oakland has a 24-hour Walgreens, but the pharmacy is not open 24 hours.

People who are sick or unable to get a pharmacy before they close for the night are SOL.  People who walk out of the emergency room at night better have free samples, because they aren’t going to fill an RX in Berkeley until the next day.

At midnight on Sunday, you can get your choice of pizzas, but you can’t buy a potentially life-saving antibiotic.

If your kid is sick in the middle of the night and you are able to get in touch with a doctor to call in an emergency RX, you are out of luck in Berkeley.

Given the millions of dollars CVS, Walgreens and other pharmacies make selling drugs, couldn’t they afford to staff one pharmacy at night in Berkeley to serve people who need their medications?  People in Berkeley generate millions of dollars for CVS and Walgreens.

In Barcelona pharmacies take turns and rotate who will be open all night to serve the public. I hear that San Francisco and Contra Costa County have 24 hour pharmacies. Why can’t we get one in Berkeley? Why should millions of people in the East Bay have no access to critical medication at night?

Contact CVS and Walgreens. Tell them you want 24 hour pharmacy service in Berkeley.

Photo from Flickr by Coreyu

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  1. I agree with Tree. It’d be nice to have everything, but it all costs money. Then people would be complaining about higher costs! If you need a prescription filled, go to the pharmacy during regular hours. If you have an unforseeable emergency, go to the hospital.

    There are not “a number of” 24-hour pet hospitals in Berkeley. As far as I know, there is only one. It is the equivalent of an emergency room, not a pharmacy. Don’t worry, humans still get far better health care than animals. If you need emergency help, you can call an ambulance. I’ve tried calling 911 when I found a dog lying on the roadside, hit by a car, and no one would help him.

  2. Considering Berkeley to my knowledge doesn’t have any 24-hour drug stores, grocery stores, restaurants, or even coffee shops, I think this might be putting the cart before the horse a little bit. The only 24 hour establishments that I’m aware of are a couple of gas stations and convenience stores and the 24-hour Fitness; so Berkeley residents can eat and burn off empty calories 24-hours a day–but not much else.

  3. Our family experience was at Alta Bates on Super Bowl Sunday this year. We got excellent service from the medical staff. But they were as puzzled as we were about how to fill an RX for pain-controlling medication for a person leaving the ER at 9pm.

  4. A long time ago I got a scrip filled at Alta Bates pharmacy late at night but I don’t recall the details. However, a doc had called it in for me.
    As for urgent care after hours, parents should know about Night Owl Pediatrics in Pleasant Hill. OK – it isn’t right around the corner. It is not open all night but for a sports injury after the game or a weekend necessity, it is great. It sure beats the 5 hour wait at the ER if you get there before closing. Call first as the hours depend on the day of the week.

  5. I seem to be missing something here. If someone has an urgent need for a new medical prescription in the middle of the night, can’t they go to a hospital and get the medicine? I have gone to hospital pharmacies when I needed to fill a prescription and no pharmacies were open.

    I think this might be an example of how we have to shift how we perceive health care. Someone has to pay the costs of having a pharmacy open twenty four hours a day and that ‘someone’, eventually, is the consumer. With all of the unmet health care needs, even just in Berkeley, twenty-four hour pharmacies does not seem like a good place to start.

    I think comparing urgent medical care with 24-hour pet care is absurd. We have a system of medical care for humans: hospitals.

    Urgent, emergent medical needs that arise in the middle of the night that require the new writing of a prescription . . . . . don’t you need to talk to a doctor to get the script? And wouldn’t that be done at a hospital? that has a pharmacy?

  6. Yes, maybe we need Pharmacy Reform as part of Healthcare Reform? It appears that there are a number of 24 hr. pet care centers operating in Berkeley including (among others) Berkeley Dog & Cat. Compare these hours with the available pediatric care in Berkeley. Our pediatrician in Berkeley schedules appointments weekdays only from 10-12 [two hour lunch break], then 2-5 (some nights later). A cat, dog or other pet can find several different open care centers with 24 hr. openings or with hours as late as 10pm or midnight including weekends.

  7. The Walgreens on Telegraph said to go to their sister store in Alameda and I did reach a person there who assured me they would take a RX through that Sunday night. But I would confirm that with the Alameda pharmacy. There does not seem to be a way for pharmacies to get this word out, and we might expect changes from time to time.

  8. Tom:

    Can you tell us which pharmacy in Alameda is open 24 hours?

    Having spent way, way too much time at Alta Bates Emergency in recent years due to a health problem in our household, I’d like to know.


  9. Well observed and a scandal compared to services many will recall from Europe. After 9 pm on a Sunday (or possibly 6pm) the closest pharmacy for folks in Oakland or Berkeley is in Alameda. The neon lights saying “24 Hour Pharmacy” will still be glowing locally (you can admire the sign at 51st and Telegraph) but you will find that the pharmacists have all gone home. To judge by our family’s experience on Super Bowl Sunday, this is poorly understood at one ER room and at many pharmacies where you will get a puzzled look on a Sunday evening when you show up with a RX.

    Tom Leonard