Letters to the editor: December 10, 2007


Lost in translation: Immigrants should adapt

I just read your Nov. 2 on-line daily news article entitled "Complaint filed against pharmacies for absence of translation." Interesting article. Then I got to thinking, Where are we talking about? I soon realized it was New York, America, English-speaking country.

I can appreciate the fact that patients need to know information regarding the medications they are taking; however, I also realize that this situation was brought about because people who don't speak English choose to live in a country that does. It begs the question, "Have any of these individuals made any attempt whatsoever to learn the language of the country in which they choose to reside?"

From the article, it appears that a number of pharmacies have already gone above and beyond to help the individuals who have no interest in learning English, but that doesn't seem to be enough. They would rather go to a pharmacy that doesn't provide a specific service in their specific language and then file a complaint. That would be like your deciding to move to China and then filing a complaint because folks over there don't take care of you in the English language!

Tom Ostman
Nebraska Pharmacist

Yes to a third class of drugs

Organized pharmacy has been asking for a behind-the-counter class of drugs for more than 40 years. Pharmacists can and should be able to dispense and sell certain Rx-only drugs when appropriate for their patients. This class should include drugs that have side effects and other notable requirements that should be communicated to the patient before purchase or use. A case in point is the recent dustup about cold medicine for kids under two years of age. These medicines could be kept on the market and used if the proper warnings were issued and dose precautions taken. The misuse of these medicines is usually due to the patients' caregivers not reading or not understanding the label warnings.

J. T. (Tom) Gulick, R.Ph., retired tgulick@cooketech.net

Onus is on everyone to prevent errors

When I read your July 23 article about the distinction between delayed-release and extended-release medications, I was glad somebody was paying attention. Physicians should be specific as to what dosage form they intend to prescribe. A physician who writes "Depakote 500 mg" does not give a pharmacist an indication as to whether it is delayed-release or extended-release. I think that pharmaceutical reps from Abbott who visit physician offices should attempt to bring such issues up when medications like Depakote are in question.

Everybody in the healthcare arena has a responsibility for ensuring medication safety. Educating everybody involved is important. It is crucial that a prescriber writing a prescription for Depakote be very specific. On the pharmacy side, I strongly agree with the authors that marking the shelves more clearly to differentiate Depakote delayed-release from Depakote extended-release is a step forward in preventing medication errors.

Uchenna Ani, Pharm.D.
Walgreen Pharmacy
Richland, Wash.

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