A former CVS Caremark Corp. pharmacist has sued his ex-employer for wrongfully discharging him after he complained about cutbacks within the company.

Joseph Zorek, 61, worked at a 24-hour CVS in Harrisburg, Penn., which was the “area’s busiest” location, according to his suit. Zorek says that in early 2011, there was a 20 percent cutback in pharmacy technician hours, which was leading to “a greater number of mistakes in filling and labeling prescriptions.” Zorek complained to CVS management that the cutbacks were contributing to increased pressure on pharmacists and causing prescribing errors. CVS then discharged him.

CVS denies Zorek’s allegations. “The health and safety of our customers is our number one priority and we have comprehensive policies and procedures in place to ensure prescription safety,” a company spokesman told the Wall Street Journal.

Zorek’s suit underscores the discord within the retail pharmacy industry. Retail pharmacy chains are facing a historic revenue slump due to the increasing use of less-profitable generic drugs. And although doctors wrote more than 4 billion prescriptions last year, the number of retail drugstores has remained roughly the same at about 55,000 locations, which has led pharmacists to feel overworked. A 2011 survey by the Oregon board of pharmacy found that three-quarters of the state’s chain pharmacists said their work environment didn’t support patient safety.

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