Letters: May 2012

May 15, 2012

Readers speak out about what got retail pharmacy where it is today; why the term "doctor" is like the curl in a pig's tail; and where the MD should put that vial of ropivacaine.

The wisdom of hindsight

In June of this year, I will begin my 52nd year as a practicing pharmacist. They have been years of joy and years of disappointment. Why has retail pharmacy ended up in such a mess?

Early in my career I was thrilled to work for district managers and pharmacy directors who felt it was their job to help me succeed. Today, too many of them simply carry the message from on high, fearful of taking the stand they should.

2. Relinquished control of pharmacy operations through misguided and incongruous metrics;

3. Stood by while pharmacy hours expanded to fill 14 hours a day, nights, weekends, and holidays, while customers were able to adjust to the normal business hours of all other healthcare practitioners;

4. Promoted script transfers through bribery and watched customers con the system to save money without any company loyalty;

5. Prodded pharmacists to provide counseling, flu shots, BP readings, etc., all with a DECREASE in staffing;

6. Opened drive-thru pharmacies that killed customer service and destroyed profitable OTC sales;

7. Bid dispensing fees ever downward to get extra script volume unaccompanied by proper staffing;

8. Accepted time-consuming pseudo-ephedrine product sales that further prevented pharmacy technicians from performing needed Rx-filling roles.

I would have told all of them, "Hey, I'm on your side. Give me the staffing and respect I need, and I'll amaze you with positive results. Think about what you're about to do. The unexpected consequences of your actions will harm you, your company, and the public we are charged to serve."

Would they have listened? I doubt it.

By the way, after 52 years, I am still practicing community pharmacy for Wal-Mart Pharmacies in Central Virginia, where working conditions most resemble the good old days!

Paul Bergeron
LAKE MONTICELLO, VA.