APhA considers name change, debates homeopathy


The American Pharmaceutical Association House of Delegates passed several resolutions at the annual meeting in Philadelphia.



APhA considers name change, debates homeopathy

After 150 years, the American Pharmaceutical Association is considering a name change to better reflect the profession it represents. At the same time, its house of delegates dealt a blow to another venerable institution, homeopathy.

At APhA's annual meeting in Philadelphia last month, the group's president, Thomas Menighan, revealed that members would be asked to vote this summer on whether the association should change its name to the American Pharmacists Association. Many members believe the change is long overdue. But some students reportedly prefer the name American Pharmacy Association because including the word pharmacist in the name would not reflect their membership since they are not yet practitioners.

On another note of change, it was announced that APhA stalwart Lucinda Maine is leaving her post as senior v.p. of professional affairs. In May, she is moving to the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy, replacing executive v.p. Richard Penna, who is retiring.

The only fireworks in an otherwise dull house of delegates session were sparked by a resolution undercutting homeopathy. After much parliamentary maneuvering with amendments and amendments to amendments, the delegates agreed that "APhA supports the demonstration of safety and efficacy of homeopathic products from adequate, well-designed scientific studies before pharmacists advocate or sell homeopathic products."

A companion resolution was adopted, which recognized patient autonomy on homeopathy but urged R.Ph.s to educate patients who choose to use such products. In addition, the delegates adopted a policy urging APhA to work with Congress to modify the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act or to enact other legislation that would require all homeopathic manufacturers to provide evidence of efficacy and safety of all products, including those already on the market.

The debate over homeopathy came down to delegates who pooh-poohed it as pseudoscience versus those who want to keep it open as a patient option. One delegate said he was "amazed" that APhA is still dealing with homeopathic remedies, and that the profession "should not support these 'homeo-pathetic' products." Another delegate countered that 95% of the independent pharmacies in her county stock homeopathic products and added, "We have been educated about homeopathy, and our patients ask us for these products, which are well accepted in Europe." Another delegate said integrative medicine is an important part of pharmacy and that he'd like to make up his own mind about homeopathy.

The only other resolution that generated more than normal comment centered around an effort to get APhA on the record opposing discount drug card programs that mandate government price controls. But problems with the proper wording doomed the resolution to being referred to the board of trustees for further study. The delegates did adopt a resolution calling on the APhA to encourage the Federal Trade Commission and Attorney General to investigate misleading and deceptive claims by discount card issuers.

The remaining resolutions adopted by the house were generally of the mom-and-apple-pie variety, designed to offend no one. For example, APhA encourages the review of all patient information for health literacy appropriateness. And APhA supports the right of states to regulate pharmacy; adequate resources for pharmacy boards; and recognition by pharmacy boards of innovations in pharmacy practice.

In the area of professional practice regulation, the delegates agreed that APhA should encourage revision of pharmacy laws to make the holder of the pharmacy license responsible and accountable for the operation of the pharmacy, including quality improvements, inventory, staffing, and financial activities. At the same time, the pharmacist is responsible and accountable for dispensing and for providing pharmaceutical care services. The delegates also agreed that pharmacy license holders must provide adequate resources and support for R.Ph.s to meet their professional responsibilities. On the other hand, pharmacists have to utilize those resources appropriately and efficiently.

Encouraging the creation and funding of recovery programs for R.Ph.s, techs, and students with substance abuse problems got a thumbs-up. And the delegates thought it was a good idea for APhA to support the profession's continuing efforts to network with the Office of Homeland Security on preparedness and response.

Carol Ukens


Carol Ukens. APhA considers name change, debates homeopathy. Drug Topics Apr. 1, 2002;146:16.

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