Letters: October 2010

October 15, 2010

Pharmacists speak out about quota systems, pain management, sexism in the work place, and pharmacy tobacco sales.

Key Points

A matter of time

"Re: "Desperate measures" [Viewpoint, Sept. 2010]:

Ann Greene, RPh
NOTTINGHAM, PENN.

Two different things

To me, it is obvious that Mr. Randeria has never had any personal experience with someone in chronic pain ("Controlled substance dilemma," September 2010). The percentage of those in chronic pain who will become addicted is very low, although nearly all will become dependant and suffer withdrawal if they abruptly discontinue the drug. Dependency is not addiction, and in the chronic pain patient, rapid escalation of dose is uncommon.

While we pharmacists don't have ready access to a patient's medical records, 30+ states have controlled substance databases that we can access and we can readily isolate those who are doctor/pharmacy shoppers.

Of those who would abuse a substance, the vast majority has some unmet mental health issue. Until our society decides that it wants to invest the resources to deal with these mental health issues, these individuals will continue to find some substance to abuse.

Stephen R. Ariens, PD
NEW ALBANY, IND.

Sexism? You bet

After 25+ years in the business and finally opening an independent pharmacy of my own, I would like to say that attitudes have changed, but unfortunately, prejudices are still alive and well.

The year I graduated from pharmacy school was the first year the ratio turned; our class was 51% female. When I first went to work in the Binghamton, N.Y. area, I was the first female pharmacist working in that area. Customers would constantly refuse to talk to me, indicating they wanted to talk to a "real" pharmacist. I had one customer even say, "How cute! A girl pharmacist!" I graduated with honors from the same pharmacy school as my male peers - there were no "cute" programs available.

I still work part-time for a small grocery chain that employs male and female pharmacy techs. Even though I wear a white coat and am old enough to be the mother of most of my techs, if I am working with a male tech, customers almost always assume he is the pharmacist. My only consolation is that I make a lot more money than he does, and I have earned the respect of my colleagues in the medical community and of my patients.

Kate Pellittieri, RPh
ROCHESTER, N.Y.

Clearing the air

Jim Plagakis was justified in encouraging the patient to stop smoking ("Judgment call," September 2010).

When I bought my pharmacy in 1983, the only non-healthcare item in the store was the cigarette shelf. On the first day of ownership, I sold the entire tobacco display to the first customer who walked in for $50. He was happy and I was rid of it. From that day forward my pharmacy was strictly professional healthcare.

I feel that any pharmacy/pharmacist that sells tobacco in any form is unethical.

Joseph Lugar, RPh
TERRE HAUTE, IND.