US Pharm. 2011;36(11):3.
One thing I've learned with experience is that if you get a bunch of pharmacists in a room, there will be no shortage of conversation and opinions on a variety of topics. I've also found pharmacists to be among the more active responders to surveys we send out from time to time. I suppose that's why it came as no news to me that pharmacists actively answered one or more of our polls posted monthly on www.uspharmacist.com.
Over the years, we've asked some noncontroversial questions to get to know our readers better and some pretty divisive questions that provoked some interesting and unexpected results. And each time, pharmacists did not disappoint us, responding in droves.
To get to know our readers better, we asked if they were active users of social networking sites. In this day and age of mobile technology, I was personally somewhat surprised at the responses. Just slightly over half (51%) of the pharmacists reported they do not use social networking in either their personal or professional lives, while 34% said they use social networking in their personal lives and only 12.5% reported using it both professionally and personally. A very small percentage (2.5%) said they use social networking professionally. And speaking of technology, we were also interested in learning if pharmacists preferred e-prescribing over the more traditional written paper prescription. More than half the pharmacists (54%) said they preferred e-prescribing because it reduces prescription errors; a much smaller percentage (16%) responded that they still prefer handwritten prescriptions over those transmitted electronically.
On a more global issue, when asked if importing prescription drugs into the United States is a good thing, the vast majority (72%) of pharmacists were fairly firm in their response: They believe the quality of imported drugs cannot be assured without FDA approval. But when we asked pharmacists if they supported free or low-cost prescription drug programs, the responses were pretty much divided. Nearly half (42%) said they supported such discount programs because those save patients money, but another third thought some of the programs “went too far.”
For years, the issue of a mandatory PharmD degree was hotly debated before the degree became the norm, so we thought we would put the question to our readers to hear their thoughts. In general, their answers lacked overall enthusiasm for the PharmD program. Only a quarter of the pharmacists responding said a PharmD degree was a “great benefit” to their career; but just over a quarter (28%) said it didn't make a difference either way. More than one-third of pharmacists polled said they couldn't answer one way or the other because they didn't hold a PharmD degree.
In a more controversial vein, we asked pharmacists if oral contraceptives should be available without a prescription as a “behind the counter” item. Nearly half (47%) said no because there were too many safety risks; another 36% said yes because this would improve access for women; 11% felt that OTC emergency contraceptives were sufficient, and 6% were unsure. Another contentious question asked whether pharmacists should support medical marijuana. This topic, surprisingly, drew mixed reactions, and the answers were pretty much a three-way split. One-third of the pharmacists believed that medical marijuana was acceptable as long as it was used to treat specific illnesses; another third said yes but that it should be regulated like an OTC drug, similarly to alcohol; and yet another third said no because it would cause more widespread drug abuse.
Our thanks go out to everyone who responded to our anonymous polls in the past. Not only are polls fun to take, they allow us to keep our pulse on the industry and enlighten us on how our colleagues are thinking about a variety of important issues. Your opinion really does count!
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