Facing 'do or die,' R.Ph.s enlist grassroots help

May 22, 2006

Pharmacists who want to get involved at the grassroots level can contact the resources listed below.

Members of the 15,000 strong Association of Community Pharmacists Congressional Network (ACP*CN) recently gave the President and Congress their two cents' worth. They mailed Bush and their representatives drug vials with a penny inside to drive home the message that Part D has reduced the value of their pharmacy to one red cent. To spread its message, the Raleigh, N.C.-based ACP*CN has hired a Washington, D.C., public relations pro who was formerly the spokeswoman for the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. And media outlets, including regional newspapers and TV stations, as well as the Wall Street Journal and the Hill, a powerful Capital Hill newspaper, are paying attention.

The ACP*CN group also issues regular fax blasts about what's happening in pharmacies around the country to motivate members to contact their Congressmen and Senators, said Mike James, director of government affairs. Members are also being urged to go to D.C. this month to demonstrate on the Capitol steps and buttonhole their Congressmen at a get-together coinciding with the annual legislative conference hosted by the National Community Pharmacists Association.

One of the ACP*CN messengers is Richard Burge, CEO of Baneth's Pharmacy in Menlo Park, Calif., who recently pulled out of the Part D Medi-Cal program of San Mateo County. His pharmacy was filling nearly 5,000 scripts per month for the programs but losing money on every one, he said, adding that he's willing to speak frankly to any independent pharmacist "who is willing to face reality." His phone number is (650) 326-8403; his e-mail address is ifmnx4u@sbcglobal.net
.

"As long as there are billions of dollars in play between the drug manufacturers on the one hand and the health plans and their network pharmacies on the other, we are going to work together to adopt a new paradigm ultimately geared toward making the traditional PBM irrelevant," Burge said. "We have a significant, grassroots group of pharmacists across the country and up the Eastern Seaboard working together on this. It's time pharmacy took our fate in our own hands."