It's one of the oldest lazy tricks for jump-starting a piece of writing, and honestly, I was a little embarrassed that I was going to stoop to it.
A deadline was looming, though, and while I wasn't in full-scale writer's block, I did need a little help to get the words flowing. I wanted to write about specialty drugs, which seem to be the talk of the pharmacy world these days, and I figured the easiest way to get started would be to cut and paste the dictionary definition of “specialty drug.”
Webster's is the resource people usually turn to in situations like this. Funny thing happened, though, when I got into it.
Specialty drugs “will have a profound impact on the practice of pharmacy over the next 10 years,” as an article put it in this very magazine, yet Webster’s didn't seem to have a definition for the term. “They will affect all pharmacy practice settings and accelerate the importance of medication management to ensure the appropriate use of these important therapeutic agents,” the writer went on to say.
“This is huge,” I thought to myself. “I better make sure I get this definition right.” So I went to Chamber's, Oxford, and dictionary.com. Nothing.
I searched for a precise definition on the websites of FDA and of stakeholders that have a lot to say about the issue, and came up empty. (Oddly enough, two of the biggest voices in the debate over just who should be allowed to dispense “specialty drugs” both go by the acronym NCPA: The National Community Pharmacists Association and the National Center for Policy Analysis.)
It looked as if I wouldn't be using my lazy writer's trick after all.