Letters to the editor: November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007

Gift cards promote polypharmacy

I read with interest your Oct. 8 cover story "Are you getting pharmacy's message across?" It's a good article describing pharmacy's lack of a clear message that has prevented us from being the respected profession we could be. However, I believe the author was too quick in lauding the efforts of CVS as "promoting pharmacist services, not drug prices, in their commercials to the Medicare Part D population." CVS is the same company that is infiltrating pharmacy markets with $25 gift card coupons for transferring prescriptions. For companies forced to match these coupons to avoid losing business (I just did another one today for a net loss of $16.66!), it fuels the very quagmire we are in. CVS pharmacists themselves do not support these coupons discounting their services, but the mass-merchants and grocery stores don't care. These outrageous gift cards for prescription business do a great job of incentivizing patients to switch pharmacies every month based on where they can get their next $25 from. This exacerbates polypharmacy and the problem it creates monitoring patients' drug therapy and clouds pharmacy's argument that a new "AMP" pricing formula on the horizon is a bad thing. Can you blame patients for pharmacy hopping? Can we blame Congress if it doesn't understand our argument to preserve fair reimbursement?

Mark R. Jacobs, R.Ph. mrjacobs@wisc.edu

Publix not the problem

Naturally, Publix expects to benefit from the increase in traffic created by its program. Regarding the burden of that traffic, I would rather beg my boss for more help because my sales are skyrocketing than to have the discussion of why my sales are slumping and have to cut my staff's hours. To say that the Publix Free Antibiotic Program will be the cause of a superbug epidemic is sensational overreaching.

Paul Garneau, R.Ph., CSCS
Fort Myers, Fla.

Free generics not a threat to profession

How much a company chooses to charge for its prescription services is a business decision and should not threaten the profession or the professional. Failing to counsel patients properly is unprofessional. Charging $4 or $0 for a prescription has no bearing on professionalism, and I am sure that there are many Publix, Medco, and Wal-Mart pharmacists who are highly skilled in the important aspects of our profession.

Robert Gale, R.Ph.
Placitas, N.M.
RxGale@Comcast.Net