Letters: October 13, 2008

October 13, 2008

Pharmacists speak out about Pharmacy Alliance, the new PhRMA marketing code, and a third drug class

Key Points

Regarding the article The Pharmacy Alliance in your Sept. 15 issue, I agree that organizations, both new and existing, need to focus on creating value around professional services over selling commodities (medications). Many issues are mentioned in the article, including the need to address unprofessional work environments, licensing, and reimbursement. I believe there are two primary issues that drive pharmacy practice in America, including a lack of reimbursement for professional pharmacy services, and antiquated laws governing pharmacy practice.

Most states have not revised laws to allow pharmacists to spend more time on clinical activities.

Additionally, the laws in most states provide no guidelines for clinically focused practice settings.

Connie Sullivan, RPh
National Director of Infusion
Pharmacy Services

Concerns about third class of drugs

Drug Topics' June 16 cover story "Has the Time Come for a Third Class of Drugs?" begs some additional questions. Putting pseudoephedrine behind the counter so that a pharmacist can monitor the sale of this drug to prevent its abuse brings up the issue of whether pharmacists have a clinical responsibility to ask the consumer if he/she has a heart or blood pressure condition. Most patients do not know their pressure. Do we take the patient's word, or should we have the right to take the consumer's blood pressure in the pharmacy or, if not, refuse the sale?

If the FDA would like pharmacists to intervene, they must also give pharmacists some legality for clinical intervention.

Sam Schiffman, RPhctmsts@gmail.com

Can't buy me love

I think PhRMA's new marketing code is a total waste of time and effort. Does anyone really believe that health professionals would compromise their patients' health and safety because of a gift of a pen or cup? I also think it's foolish that politicians believe a pharmacist or cardiologist is going to cause harm to patients over a $50 meal at a steak house.

David Bibeault, RPh, MBA
Rhode Island
dbibeault@lifespan.org

Proper payment for services

Pharmacists will never receive a fair dispensing fee no matter how many well-done studies reveal what we need to break even. As long as the big corporations are willing to undercut each other to increase their volume, dispensing fees will continue to be set low. We all know that many big corporations use the pharmacy department as a loss leader to get customers into their store to sell them a drill, 10 pounds of potatoes, or a new shirt. Pharmacists will never receive payment for patient counseling and medication therapy management because we are in the retail business.

Pharmacists are not like lawyers and doctors who get paid for their legal and medical advice. They do not sell a product at retail. They sell advice, which is simply words, not made of matter, as are pills and liquids, and salves and creams.

Roger O'Dell, RPh
Sciotoville, Ohio