Walgreens and Mental Health--Better Luck This Time?

Chicago locals take pride in Walgreens, the big ole pharmacy chain that got started way back in 1901. There actually was a Mr. Walgreen back then, and the chain slowly expanded through the Chicago area. Walgreens’ international headquarters are still close by–I drive past them in Deerfield just about every day. But Walgreens is a lot more than the corner pharmacy these days.

You may remember the Theranos nightmare; I have written about it a few times. Theranos was the clinical laboratory started by Elizabeth Holmes, the clone formed by a pseudo mating of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. Her concept, to perform a wide range of blood testing from a finger prick, was going to revolutionize the laboratory world, and Walgreens was going to be her partner! Somehow Walgreens, a multi-billion dollar firm, fell for the hype of an unproven, untested methodology. I imagine the embarrassment that must have been felt by the Walgreen’s Board and CEO when Theranos started failing quality and accreditation inspections left and right. Neither Walgreens nor Silicon Valley did a very good vetting job before turning Theranos into a unicorn.

But Walgreens is marching on. In a press release yesterday the company announced its commitment to mental health. Through a series of new links in a section on its website,

“Walgreens can help connect people to free, scientifically based online screenings for a number of conditions, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD and others.”

Thank heavens this time Walgreens is going for “scientifically based” processes! I admit I don’t know as much about mental health issues as I do about laboratory science. But I have seen family members and friends stricken with crippling depression and bipolar disorder. I also have friends and relatives who are mental health professionals. I hope that those professionals, and the mental health community as a whole, will examine the Walgreens’ web site and determine if the tools that are presented really do help in self-identification of patients with mental health disorders, and that the site is also useful in getting those people the help they need. I’m crossing my fingers that this time the results are positive. Walgreens doesn’t need another failure (Laury has a few shares of their stock) and neither do the people they are trying to help.

In another health related matter, I have tabulated the results to my non-scientific (there, I admit it) insurance poll from a few weeks ago. Most of my readers pay significantly more for health care coverage than they did previously and have also seen cut backs in their coverage. That mirrors our own family. I still believe in many facets of the Affordable Care Act, but I know that “affordable” may not have been the most appropriate moniker.

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