People who get their medications handled by pharmacies at Giant Eagle stores in Ohio may want to be mindful of when they plan to get them.

Giant Eagle announced that pharmacies in its stores will close between 1:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

That's because the grocer enacted a new state-wide operation policy that closes the pharmacy for 30 minutes in order to give their employees a break before continuing their work.

People using the grocer's pharmacy were alerted to the new policy, which is connected to new rules set forth by the Ohio Board of Pharmacy requiring mandatory breaks for those working at a pharmacy, also taking effect today. 

This will impact every pharmacy in Ohio, according to the board.

It requires that all pharmacy personnel working longer than six continuous hours per workday be allowed to take a 30-minute, uninterrupted break.

Pharmacies can stay open, as long as another pharmacist works while the other takes the required break.

Additionally, the rule requires pharmacies to develop a process for pharmacy staff to request extra staff and report staffing concerns. It also mandates that pharmacy owners need to respond to these requests or reports within 14 business days.

The new guidelines are intended to prevent severe understaffing and burnout at pharmacies that could hurt patients who get their medications there.

This is connected to 27 cases that alleged numerous safety concerns and potential legal violations that the Ohio Board of Pharmacy discovered in a series of inspections it conducted between 2020 and 2023.

It found that understaffing significantly contributed to prescription delays, errors in dispensing said prescriptions and poor quality of equipment and working conditions.

The board also conducted a survey of pharmacists and other employees after receiving several complaints about long work hours at businesses like CVS.

It found that of those working at large chains like grocery stores or standalone stores, only 20% of people were allowed to take lunch breaks or other breaks throughout the work day.

In 2021, the same survey was given. However, that number only increased to 29%.

That same 2021 survey showed that more than 60% of pharmacists felt that their operations were not adequately staffed. When broken down, the majority of pharmacists who felt this way were part of a large chain store.

Overall, 84% of pharmacists said that mandatory breaks would be extremely likely to improve working conditions at these businesses.