Letters: July 2012

July 15, 2012

Readers share their rules for getting through the day, memories of technologies past, and a call to arms

Two simple rules

"Re: "The simple truth of retail chain pharmacy" [DT Blog, June 1, 2012]:

Loved the article – so, so true! It's an impossible job.

Thank you to Charles Duhon for taking the time to articulate retail chain pharmacy. "

L. Marie Rodriguez, RPh
KNOXVILLE, TENN.

Technology is the name of the game

I enjoyed James Rawlings' article about pharmacy past's day-to-day responsibilities ["You're smart, but can you ink a Bates?," Viewpoint, April 2012].

I graduated from pharmacy school in 2003. As I read the article, I turned to an elder pharmacist, class of 1978 (one year before I was born). I asked him if we had a Bates machine. He said yes and pulled the Bates from a drawer. It still works.

Jim also mentioned the torsion balance – I've only used one on the first day of lab, because we were told to use digital scales. Two of my fellow pharmacists working late at night in the hospital had to break out the torsion balance to compound a special formula for a baby with PKU. Not remembering exactly how to use the scale, they found a tutorial video on the internet.

My personal accomplishment is to make sure the date/time and header are correct on all the hospital fax machines. It's a legacy left to me by another elder pharmacist who had decided I should do this task when the fax machines became too advanced for him.

Jamie Hudman, PharmD
GADSDEN, ALA.

Salvation for the industry

I recently read Jim Plagakis' comments in "Pharmacy's big bucks" [JP at Large, February 2012]. Very interesting insight. I have been practicing pharmacy since 1977 – back in the glory days before PBMs influenced 90% of our business.

I have been an independent store owner for the last 20 years. It has been my belief for many years that the PBMs would like nothing more than to do business without their biggest cost liability – the pharmacist – to improve their bottom lines. A pharmacist, by the way, who is doing way more than he/she should handle. As technology improves, I fear this may be the wave of the future if pharmacists don't stand up to protect their proper place in the medical community. After all, more people enter into the medical arena through the pharmacy (pharmacist).

Secondly: KUDOS to Walgreens. It is about time that someone stood up to low reimbursements. I've wanted someone to do this for years. Being an independent, I have very little negotiating power with PBMs. Now, if the other chains would follow suit, there may be salvation (profits) for the industry, leading to employment for pharmacists. All one has to do is follow the money to see who is making the big bucks in the medical field. A $50 million salary for one PBM CEO is a little excessive; money should be coming from employers and employees and going to providers, not corporate executives.

I hope that the other chains will help save the neighborhood pharmacy, which our customers want and need, and follow Walgreens' direction and make a move against the PBMs. I personally think the others will, in time, come to think like Walgreens, except for the one retailer that has prostituted our profession for years. Let's all work together for our customers well-being as well as our industry.

Chuck Dutcher, RPh
TAYLOR, ARIZ.