Letters: February 2011

February 15, 2011

Pharmacists speak out about solutions for the poor, drug shortages, counterfeit drugs, and Plan B.

Key Points

Making the call

I remember when I worked retail and folks would come in to fill prescriptions for their sick children. I've seen the looks on their faces when they found out how much their prescriptions cost. Some parents would turn around and try to leave without antibiotics a sick child needed because they couldn't afford them.

It's hard for some patients when they have to choose between food on the table, rent, getting to work, and paying for doctors and meds."

Debbie Bair, PharmD
TACOMA, WASH.

Coping with shortages

Q: How many pharmacists does it take to fill a prescription? A: Four. One to call the manufacturer, another to call the wholesaler, a third to call the doctor and ask for therapeutic substitution, and a fourth to put whatever is left on the shelf into a bottle!

The drug shortage problem is growing worse. The "Drug Shortages Summit Report," based on the Nov. 10, 2010, meeting in Bethesda, Md., is featured in the January 19th, 2011, e-mail from ASHP Advocacy. The report suggests reasons for the shortages and strategies for coping with them; we all need to get involved with this.

Every patient deserves a good pharmacist, and the patients who don't get one are going to feel it until we all figure out a way through this crisis.

Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA
PORTLAND, ORE.

Follow the money

The article by Kathryn Foxhall about counterfeit drugs ["Counterfeit drug war continues," December 2010] is right on target. What is baffling is the way pharmaceutical companies continue to flock to the countries that make the counterfeit drugs. China is known to be the counterfeit capital of the world, yet companies like Pfizer (Viagra) and Hoffmann-La Roche (Tamiflu) insist on staying despite the counterfeiting and contamination of their products.

Also, it would be nice to have a law that requires a pharmaceutical product to indicate where that product was actually manufactured. The pharmaceutical companies do not want this as profit is more important to them than patient safety.

Robert S. Katz, RPh
STAMFORD, CONN.

A little list with a big agenda

I can think of 3 things that would help with the counterfeit drug problem.

1. Return drug manufacture to the United States. (FDA would have oversight and it would help the unemployment problem.)

2. Big pharma should go back to charging reasonable prices for drugs instead of what the market will bear.

3. Place a tariff on imported drugs (raw materials or processed).

J. Davis, RPh
WAXAHACHIE, TEXAS