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DT BLOG: Pharmacy stamp redux


It took the sustained efforts of a few dedicated individuals to persuade the U.S. Postal Service to create a postage stamp honoring pharmacists. To commemorate some of those men and their work, reader John W. Owen, Sr., RPh, speaks up

The Nov. 1, 2012 issue of Drug Topics included an article titled “Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the pharmacy stamp.” Turns out, there’s more to the story. Much more. And reader John W. Owen, Sr., RPh, has come forward to set the record straight.

In regard to the above referenced article, I would like to offer additional information on the history of the undertaking that resulted in the creation of a U.S. postage stamp honoring/recognizing the profession of pharmacy.

Grassroots efforts in New Mexico were not the only efforts made on behalf of the pharmacy profession to win approval of a stamp honoring pharmacy. True, the National Association of Retail Druggists (NARD, now NCPA) and APhA among many other parties who worked on winning approval for the stamp.

Two major players in these efforts were the late Irving Rubin, RPh, then editor of Pharmacy Times, and George Griffenhagen, RPh, then editor of the Journal of the American Pharmaceutical Association (JAPhA). These two were the “driving forces” behind the push to get the pharmacy stamp on the agenda of the Citizens Stamp Advisory committee, a public forum committee of the U.S. Postal Department (now USPS) for recommendation and approval. The Committee is a major influence in the process of approval for a commemorative stamp issued.

A full account of the 38-year effort for a US Pharmacy stamp can be read in JAPhA, Vol N12, No 10, Oct 1972, pp. 56 ff. (Editor’s note: Issues of this vintage not available online.)

The JAPhA article provides detailed information on this subject and a history of the efforts made during this time frame, up to the actual issuance of the pharmacy stamp. I would highly suggest a close reading of this article.

(Editor’s note: Readers can contact JAPhA to inquire about the costs of obtaining a single reprint for personal use. The JAPhA website states: Permission to copy articles is given at no charge to pharmacy schools and state pharmacy associations; written permission must be obtained from the Administrative and Publishing Coordinator [gmieren@aphanet.org or (202) 429-7583]. All others must obtain permission to copy from: Copyright Clearance Center
, 222 Rosewood Dr.
Danvers, MA 01923
 / 978-750-8400.)

Pharmacist Pena is to be congratulated in the efforts he made through the NARD, as described in the Drug Topics article, to address the issue.

However, the article in DT does not reveal the concerted efforts on the part of many individuals who contributed to the undertaking, nor does it give proper credit to those to whom proper credit should be rendered.

I give Mr. Rubin and Mr. Griffenhagen credit for their active footwork  from 1970 to1972 in personally contacting officials in the federal government. Their personal initiatives and tenacity in working through the bureaucratic maze of the U.S. Post Office Department, and their use of political and elected officials to promote and support issuance of the pharmacy stamp, should be rightfully noted.

Mr. Rubin used Pharmacy Times to launch a media campaign, while Mr. Griffenhagen worked tirelessly with the Board of Directors of APhA and other national pharmacy organizations (including NARD) to keep pharmacists informed and to motivate pharmacy practitioners to promote issuance of the stamp through contact with their Congressional leaders. I joined in that process myself, writing letters to my Congressional representatives.

Mr. Griffenhagen is still living and I have corresponded with him on this matter, as well as with Daniel Shifrin, RPh, as I worked to get this information placed before you.

Like Mr. Shifrin and me, Mr. Griffenhagen is an ardent and active stamp collector. He has published articles extensively on stamps issued honoring pharmacy around the world. He is a recognized authority on the subject.

Both Pharmacist Shifrin and I owe George a debt of gratitude for spurring on our own interest in the hobby, particularly in connection with the U.S. pharmacy stamp.

Individuals who wish to contact Mr. Griffenhagen to verify my information can contact me through the information provided below.

John W. Owen, Sr. is a pharmacy consultant and philatelist in Columbia, S.C. Contact him at jwowensr@gmail.com, or call 803-783-2979.


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