Letters to the editor: May 7, 2007

May 7, 2007

PBMs should pass savings from e-prescribing to R.Ph.s; family pharmacies; pharmacy and the military; price controls; cleanliness in the pharmacy

I agree with Del Cranford (Letters, March 19) that pharmacists must stop carrying the burden and expense of e-prescribing on our backs. While Kevin Hutchinson of SureScripts is accurate in extolling all the virtues that e-prescribing brings to pharmacy, he hasn't mentioned that physicians and their staff also gain accuracy and save time and dollars. Fortunately for the physicians, Stark laws and safe harbor laws have been modified so physicians will incur less financial strain when adopting e-prescribing technology. In addition, as Cranford mentioned, PBMs will save money by using e-prescribing to increase generic drug utilization to reduce their drug expense.

PBMs certainly seem to be in good financial stead and able to share the windfall and good fortune from e-prescribing by passing a portion of their savings back down to the physicians and pharmacists who use it. The folks most negatively affected financially by implementing this new technology are the pharmacists. Perhaps the large chains can absorb the costs of e-prescribing by giving away antibiotics (Meijer's of Michigan) and $4 generics (Wal-Mart and others) and by using their pharmacy departments as loss leaders. Small chains and independents do not have that luxury.

Ronald Melaragni, R.Ph.
East Lansing, Mich.
arjay0@msn.com

Regarding your March 19 article about multi-generational pharmacists, our pharmacy has been family owned since 1945, when my grandfather, Elmer Palmquist (a Rexall salesman), undertook ownership. My father and his brother owned the store from 1971 through 1992, when I graduated from pharmacy school. My father and I have run the business since, and my mother helps operate the gift department. My sister is a pharmacist in Manhattan, Kan. I believe our corner store has always been a phar-macy-from its beginnings in the late 1800s.

Steve Palmquist
Palmquist Drug Inc.
Concordia, Kan.
steve.nicole@sbcglobal.net

Simple solution to pharmacy's problems

It's a tired story: mandatory mail order, lower reimbursement, stifling regulations, formulary restrictions, and more! The real problem is the pharmaceutical manufacturers who offer their products in various pricing tiers.

Drugs are not an elective commodity. They are a necessity for life! We need a government with the courage to set price controls. One price for all, except for Medicaid. This would eliminate the unfair advantage that PBMs have and put pharmacy back where it belongs-in the community!

Stephen Bailkin, Pharmacist
Cambria Pharmacy
Philadelphia
ioogie2@comcast.net

Dirty hands are inexcusable

I received the following e-mail from my son's friend in California. He knew I was a pharmacist and asked for my opinion of the following:

Sometimes people amaze me! Yesterday, I went into the local pharmacy to pick up a couple of prescriptions I had ordered last week. One of the prescriptions was not filled, and I had to wait for it. Standing across from the counter, I watched one of the female pharmacists counting pills from a bottle into a hopper by running them through her bare hands. What's worse is that in the middle of it, she stopped counting and scratched her head with the same hand she was running the pills through. I told the head pharmacist about it and he did not seem all that bothered by it. I sent an e-mail to the pharmacy headquarters and am waiting for a reply. And this from a so-called professional.

I responded to him with information on several offices to contact, but what really ran through my mind is this: It takes six to seven years to get a Pharm.D. degree, but even with that in your pocket, it doesn't ensure common sense. Even though counting trays and machines have removed the need for direct contact with a contaminated object, an extra three years of college above my four-year BSPh will not improve the profession if the "professional" is inept.