Letters: May 12, 2008

May 12, 2008

This installment of letters covers pharmacist salaries, drug samples, and Drug Topics' contest winners.

In response to your March cover story on pharmacist salaries, which showed that R.Ph.s are making $52.00 per hour on average, that salary doesn't keep up with inflation.

I was paid $4.25 per hour plus benefits in Miami, Fla., in 1961. The costs of owning a home, insurance, and real estate taxes have gone up a minimum of 20 times since then in this area.

Bernard Moskowitz, R.Ph.EMosko9083@aol.com

I've been following the discussion regarding drug samples. If we want to get serious about increasing generic utilization and lowering healthcare costs, I say we do away with samples completely! Samples are not about helping the indigent, this is what patient assistance programs are for. The only reason samples exist is to encourage physicians to write prescriptions for more expensive brand names, instead of cheaper generic alternatives. When a physician gives a sample of Avapro, for example, it is almost certain a follow-up script will be written for it as well. While patients benefit in the short term with a month's supply of free medicine, they are then condemned to a higher co-pay, and in the case of Part D, quicker landing in the donut hole, than if the M.D. had simply started them on a generic ACE inhibitor to begin with. You can apply this to many more drug classes. The problem is generic companies don't sample, and big PhRMA utilizes this to its advantage every day! I have personally drawn a line in the sand at my pharmacy and now offer a free month's supply to any patient on an expensive brand-name medicine, when a generic might be appropriate with the physician's approval. This has not only made my patients very happy, but it has cut back on the number of drug reps coming into my store-a win-win for everybody!

Dave Marley, Pharm.D., RAS
President
Marley Drug, Inc.
Winston-Salem, N.C.
http://www.marleydrug.com/marleydrug@bellsouth.net

Students shouldn't be used as free labor

I would like to commend your article regarding the use of students as "free-labor," featured in your Nov. 12, 2007, digital edition. I work in a retail setting and am fortunate enough to have students pass through my pharmacy. I learn as much, if not more, from my students than they learn from me.?We pride ourselves when we do have a rotational student in, making sure that his or her rotation is a valuable learning experience rather than a brief stint as a relief R.Ph.

Marc Ertz, R.Ph.
Pharmacy Manager
Shopko Pharmacy 2007
LaCrosse, Wis.
PH007@shopko.com

Vermont requires expiration date on label

I'd like to comment on your Feb. 11 Viewpoint, "Should an Rx label require a use-by date or an expiration date?" I agree with the authors that an expiration date is helpful. I noticed that Vermont was not included as one of the states that require an expiration date. Vermont does require any medication that is dispensed and will expire in one year or less to have the exact expiration date on the label. Perhaps the law was overlooked by the authors of the article because it is not mandated by Vermont Board of Pharmacy rules, but rather is contained in Vermont State Statute 4064(a) regarding misbranding of medications.

Julia Eaton, R.Ph.
Rutland, Vermont
Vermont Board of Pharmacy member
jaeaton1@verizon.net

Two winners are announced

Two attendees of the American Pharmacists Association annual meeting in San Diego are the lucky winners of Drug Topics' Guess the Number of Pills contest. They are Brandi Hamilton, a pharmacy student at Xavier University of Louisiana, and Steve Constantinides, a pharmacist from Whitestone, N.Y. Their guesses came closest to the actual count of 4,110. For submitting a winning bid, they won an iPod shuffle and a CD of Drug Topics' six-part podcast series on "Error proofing your pharmacy." The series can also be accessed on http://www.drugtopics.com/.