US Pharm. 2013;38(6):4.
One of the perks of being publisher and editor-in-chief of U.S. Pharmacist
is that I get to write this monthly column. I am able to express my
thoughts on a myriad of issues facing pharmacists daily. While you may
not agree with everything I have to say, hopefully I’ve successfully
started a discourse on topics that are crucial to you. Not
surprisingly, I get e-mail responses to what I have written. I read and
often respond personally to every e-mail I receive. Since space does
not permit me to reproduce these e-mails in their entirety, here is a
sampling of some of them.
A recurring theme in many of my columns
is how pharmacists can reduce health costs and make the U.S. health
care system more efficient by regularly counseling patients and
managing their drug therapies. One pharmacist had his own solution:
“All pharmacists have to do is to find the least expensive and best medication
[to treat] a patient’s disease state…then discontinue all of the
duplicate therapy. After that we have to monitor the patient’s
progress...communicate with [the] patient and tweak the medications to
achieve the best outcome.” Then this message took a bit of a cynical
twist, expressing a sentiment that has become a recurrent theme in many
other e-mails I receive. The pharmacist said the money saved by
insurance companies should be shared with the pharmacists, but that
this will never happen because of all the “backroom deals” being made
between “the pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, the
government, [pharmacy benefit managers], and the chains.” It sounds as
if he is encouraging pharmacists to treat patients without physician
intervention. I think that is a bad idea. I do, however, think
pharmacists should get paid for their consultation services. Let the
doctors prescribe; pharmacists should be the medication specialists
they were trained to be.
Another pharmacist wrote that he took
issue with an article we published stating that “patients should
consult their physician before taking aspirin to prevent stroke and
heart attack.” Again, pharmacists should not be in the position to
“give permission” to patients to take any medication without knowing
their full medical history. Leave that to the physician. This writer
went on to say that pharmacists need to quit being so passive if
they expect the recognition they deserve. No argument here!
And speaking of being passive, a
pharmacist from New Hampshire commented on a piece I wrote declaring
that pharmacists should be more vocal with state and federal
legislators in order get paid regularly for their consultive services.
This pharmacist basically stated that pharmacists should not treat the
medications they dispense as commodities and should embrace their
professional abilities by offering medication therapy management and
other consultive services. In conclusion, he said, “I would love to see
pharmacy restored to its once proud traditions.” To that I say, “Me
In one column I recalled an experience in helping a sick patient at 36,000 feet aboard a coast-to-coast flight.
I anticipated, I received many e-mails from other pharmacists who had
also volunteered to leave their airplane seats and aid in a medical
emergency. This just affirmed my conviction that we are pharmacists all
the time, not just when we are behind the counter.
And there was no shortage of negative
commentary on my column in support of the FDA and what it does to keep
our drug supply relatively safe. One pharmacist called me “very naïve”
if I really believe all that. He continued by saying that hundreds of
thousands of U.S. citizens die each year from taking FDA-approved
drugs. Despite the skepticism expressed by numbers of pharmacists about
the FDA’s role in approving drugs, I’ll stick to my opinion that the
FDA is an essential component in ensuring that prescription drugs in
this country remain safe and effective.
Thanks to all of our loyal readers, and
especially to those who take the time to communicate with us. Your
comments, both positive and negative, are always appreciated.
Discussion is healthy, and I aim to keep the discourse going. Hope you
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