Letters: December 15, 2008


Pharmacists speak out about PhRMA marketing revisions and the San Franciso tobacco sales ban.

Key Points

Walgreens' missed opportunity

"For years I have been exasperated at the position of purportedly health-related industries placing profits before patients ["Walgreens sues over San Francisco tobacco ban," Oct. 13, 2008]. Walgreens missed an opportunity to move away from an entirely capitalistic stance on tobacco sales and make it a public-relations coup. Instead, they chose to maintain their contradictory role as health promoter and health destroyer. It's no surprise to this observer."

Thomas McCloskey, PharmD,

In response to David Bibeault's comments [Letters, Oct. 13, 2008] regarding PhRMA's new marketing code, I don't think anyone would waste money on cups, pens, or $50 meals if they weren't effective in influencing behavior. The giveaways and gifts are another form of advertising and studies have shown that advertising works to persuade buyers or decision makers to choose one healthcare product over another.

I agree that most, but not all, healthcare professionals would not put their patients' health at risk for a small gift. However, the issue isn't as black and white as harm or no harm, treatment or no treatment. It's about offering patients the best options, both clinically and financially. Unfortunately, a small gift might influence a prescriber or pharmacist to choose or recommend a brand-name product when an equally effective, less expensive generic exists.

Emmanuel Palermo, RPh

Pharmacies have rights too

It is not a matter of health issues for the local pharmacy as much as it is a challenge to the free enterprise system ["Should pharmacies sell tobacco products," Instant Poll, http://www.drugtopics.com/]. If the government is going to dictate to the store what it can or cannot sell, are we moving to socialism? The next step could be that the pharmacist will be a government employee and subject to even more issues. I am not a public official, but I am a private business owner. Where are my rights as a private citizen to practice my trade? When do we stand up and say, "This is my business and I can sell what I want?" My pharmacy is my business, not a government office.

Thomas Kloepping, RPh, DPh

The [San Francisco] law, as written, is discriminatory and results in unfair competition. Stores need to be able to make the decision to sell or not sell any product based on each store's unique situation in today's competitive market. State, federal, and local regulations should be applied equally to all stores. Why not ban all tobacco from all stores in San Francisco? Wouldn't that be in the better interest of all? Why not all alcohol as well? Probably because the public and corporations wouldn't stand for it.

Brian Finn, RPh

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