Fast food pharmacy detailed in new book

January 7, 2013

Retail pharmacy, at least the version created by major drug chains, is bad for your patients' health. That's the charge by long-time community pharmacist Dennis Miller, RPh, in a new book.

 

Retail pharmacy, at least the version created by major drug chains, is bad for your patients' health. That's the charge by long-time community pharmacist Dennis Miller, RPh, in a new book.

"Drug chains have made the cold calculation to sling prescriptions out the door as fast as possible and pay off the inevitable claims when patients are harmed rather than adequately staff pharmacies," Miller said. "Powerful prescription drugs are dispensed in a system that is guaranteed to produce errors. Chains put profits ahead of safety and boards of pharmacy lack the backbone to require safe levels of staffing. Chain pharmacists are livid."

Miller, a 25-year veteran of multiple drug chains, lays out the case for what he calls the McDonaldization of pharmacy in "Pharmacy Exposed: 1,000 Deadly Things That Can Go Wrong at the Drugstore" (2012, ISBN 1467945501).

The book is intended to inflame public opinion and force change, Miller told Drug Topics. One reviewer likened the book to Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," an expose of early 20th century meat packing practices that helped spur Congress to enact some of the nation's earliest food safety legislation.

Miller said chain pharmacy needs a similar shake up to reduce medication errors and save lives. Community pharmacy as practiced at chain stores has been transformed from a lifesaving and health-enhancing profession into a high-speed, high-stakes enterprise in which potent pharmaceuticals that can kill as easily as cure are no more than a blur on the assembly line.

"Chain pharmacy today is little different from slinging burgers at McDonalds, Burger King, or Wendy's," Miller said. "The chains have embraced the fast food model with disastrous consequences in a system that rewards quantity over quality. The only difference is the ease with which pharmaceuticals can kill when you don't allow pharmacists the time or the staff support to do their job the right way."

The 756-page paperback is available at Amazon.com.