Letters

September 26, 2005

After 22 years in hospital pharmacy, I switched to retail pharmacy, where I have been practicing for almost six years. While there are problems in every profession, my biggest pet peeve in retail pharmacy is the interactive voice response (IVR) system, where doctors' "agents" leave Rxs on the answering machine.

After 22 years in hospital pharmacy, I switched to retail pharmacy, where I have been practicing for almost six years. While there are problems in every profession, my biggest pet peeve in retail pharmacy is the interactive voice response (IVR) system, where doctors' "agents" leave Rxs on the answering machine. The number of problems I've encountered with this system are too numerous to mention (we are asked to keep these letters brief). My questions are these:

Time has to be spent tracking down these agents to clarify prescriptions left on the IVR. Anyone who has the important job of calling in a patient's prescription should have to pass a qualifying exam. These calls should not be left to untrained personnel.

A pharmacist's main responsibility is safeguarding the public. Until only qualified staff are allowed to call in prescriptions, this responsibility is jeopardized.

Pharmacists as drug cops

Unlike Drug Topics, I neither overrate nor welcome the creation of a third class of drugs in U.S. pharmacies by way of political football games ("The New Gatekeepers," July 25). Both pseudoephedrine and Plan B are being handed off to pharmacists to police-not to increase pharmacists' pharmaceutical care "power" but out of pure administrative convenience on the part of legislators and regulators. Not only do I find nothing professionally redeeming in this story, but I believe that the day-to-day efforts of U.S. pharmacy employees-R.Ph.s and CPhTs alike-are going to be hampered by the additional layer of "busy work" involved in dealing with these kinds of OTC sales.

Also, Drug Topics ran this story as if the concept of "signing for" OTCs was brand new. U.S. federal law has allowed OTC sales of certain Schedule V products (such as codeine-containing cough syrups) for decades, and this pharmacist never considered that kind of "traffic" welcome, either. Wisely, many states have made these medications Rx-only, and I support their being made Rx-only nationwide.

Paul Trusten
Midland Memorial Hospital
Midland, Texas
trusten@grandecom.net

Reducing controlled substance abuse

Regarding your Aug. 8 article "Pharmacists need to raise their own drug abuse IQ," CASA's conclusion that R.Ph.s should do more to stop illicit use of certain controlled substances may be overlooking one area-how teenagers obtain drugs illicitly.

Six months ago, after receiving occasional advertisements on my Internet in-mail from pharmacies that mail-order controlled substances, I decided to put an ad to the test. I filled out an on-line form that asked me some basic questions: age, weight, allergies, and the like. I ordered 30 phentermine 30 mg. Three days later I received a package containing the medication.