Letters to the Editor October 8, 2007

October 8, 2007

Publix's offer of free antibiotics is rankling some pharmacists. Investigational drug access for terminally ill patients?

We are our own worst enemies

I am even more outraged that we as a profession can do nothing about it. The enemy we are facing is not "them." It is "us." I am deeply sad to say I think the feds are right. The feds and the insurance companies understand the current situation precisely: Why should the feds pay a higher price when so many thoughtless people all over the country want to give something precious away for free or almost free? Insurance companies must look at NACDS and the big chains and think, "Boy, are they nuts."

There are too many splinter groups (associations) trying (unsuccessfully) to talk for "pharmacy." The national pharmacy associations are weak in this respect and have little impact. No one group is strong enough to be taken seriously. The feds and the insurance companies know that to win, they can divide and conquer the weak and the meek.

How can NACDS argue with the feds about higher compensation while at the same time its own members are giving away life-saving medications? How can the feds demand that patients have access to pharmacy services and then not pay pharmacists adequately? The whole situation is a quagmire for us, created by us. The worst wounds to the ego are those that are self-inflicted.

It is time for one organization to represent all of pharmacy at the negotiating tables. Large corporations merge or buy each other out. Why can't our associations do the same? Why cannot the splinter groups all decide who is going to do the negotiations for the profession and support this strategy by falling in line?

How can a $34 million football player, who can barely draw his name on a piece of paper, have an agent represent him in contract negotiations worth millions, when we as a profession walk away from or give away billions of dollars? It is time for a complete change in strategy. Whatever we are doing now is clearly not working.

B.J. Khalifah, R.Ph.
Grosse Pointe Park, Mich.
photobjk@comcast.net

After reading the late-breaking news in Drug Topics, Aug. 20, concerning the news that Publix Super Markets pharmacy is now offering free antibiotics to its patients, I just had to put my two cents' worth in.

What in the world is Publix thinking? I feel it is sending out the message that its pharmacists are worthless. How can any pharmacist work for a company that does not value our profession? First Wal-Mart is selling Rxs for $4 (some below cost), then the feds are basically forcing the pharmacy to pay for their Medicare plan, and now this! Enough is enough! We need to take back our profession before it disappears completely. The time to turn the other cheek is gone; we need to stand together and fight back now before it is too late. If you work for a company that is selling products below cost or giving drugs away, you need to let it know that what it is doing is wrong and that you cannot tolerate it any longer.

Vonda Volesky, R.Ph.
Litchfield Park, Ariz.
vondav@cox.net

Hold-harmless policy needed

Regarding your September Instant Poll about terminally ill patients, yes, I think they should have access to investigational drugs, but only if they are willing to sign a binding legal document that releases the developer, manufacturer, doctor, administrator, etc. (that is, anyone or entity involved in the development or administration of the drug) from any form of litigation over whatever ill consequences might occur. In short, only if recipients of the drug assume full risk for their participation should they get access to experimental treatments.

Barbara S. Guillory
Consultant pharmacist
bsguillory@suddenlink.net