Letters to the editor: May 21, 2007

May 21, 2007

Pharmacists need better representation to improve their working conditions

I did not have the opportunity to see the "20/20" program that has made so much news. Counseling patients is an extremely important and necessary function of the retail pharmacist. Not only does it help to ensure that the right medication goes to the right patient, it also greatly helps in decreasing the number of medication errors.

I do take issue with the bureaucracy-induced nonsense about patients having to sign a logbook for every prescription that is to be dispensed. This procedure has been a farce since its inception. "Sign here." "Sign there." More time is spent explaining to impatient customers why their signature is necessary than in pharmacist counseling in this country. Had "20/20" stood outside the pharmacy door and done an exit interview as to what the patient had just signed, it would have received an overwhelming response of "I don't know."

Rob Heilman, B.S., R.Ph.
Crown Point, Ind.
robheilman@comcast.net

I did view the segment on "20/20," and I was pleased to see that the program did not put the blame on pharmacists but rather on the large chains and their working conditions. What I believe should be done is that state boards need to start writing regulations on how many pharmacists are required per X number of prescriptions filled and the maximum number of hours worked per pharmacist. This has become a public health issue.

We had the same problem with medical residents working very long shifts at hospitals. I do remember that in New York State, when I first started practicing back in the late 1970s, when the board did an inspection of a pharmacy, you needed to have one pharmacist for each 50 hours the store was open. I don't know if this is still done.

CDR Peter Weiss, R.Ph.
USPHS
pweiss200@yahoo.com

Pharm.D. versus B.Pharm.

I agree that there most certainly are B.S.-degree pharmacists practicing at a higher level than was required when they entered the profession, and a B.Pharm. is not equivalent to a pharmacy technician by any stretch of the imagination. However, the Pharm.D., while it is an entry-level degree, is not the same as a B.Pharm. Also, we do not all take "the same board exam." The new board exam has been upgraded to test the more clinical aspects covered in the new Pharm.D. curriculum. If they are the same, then why did my fellow classmates and I have to complete an extra year to acquire this new degree? And why are older pharmacists bothering to go back to school to get the degree? CEs are certainly good and do keep us all abreast of new developments, but they are in no way equivalent to the semesters of therapeutics instruction that are now required. B.Pharm. is not equivalent to Pharm.D.

Leslie Haag, Pharm.D. (2005)
West Palm Beach, Fla.
ljtmanes@netzero.net

For the record: In the March 19, 2007, HSE edition of Drug Topics, it was incorrectly reported that Joe Oddis served as executive VP of ASHP until 1998. Mr. Oddis’ last year at the helm of ASHP was 1997, when he was succeeded by Henri Manasse, ASHP’s current top executive.