Magazine article Drug Topics

The Shape of Things to Come

Magazine article Drug Topics

The Shape of Things to Come

Article excerpt

The new year is off to an anxious start, and most of the hand-wringing is over policies and people at the Food & Drug Administration. At press time, pharmacists were nervously awaiting word on the 137-page action plan submitted to Health & Human Services secretary Donna Shalala by 34 private organizations (for an update, see page 63). The plan is supposed to serve as a voluntary alternative to outgoing FDA commissioner David Kessler's MedGuide plan mandating the dissemination of Rx information to patients.

Reaction to the private initiative can be described as lukewarm, at best. Some consumer groups have opposed it, urging the regulators to step in and add some teeth to the patient information movement. Some pharmacy groups are trying to make the best of the situation by using the voluntary plan to push pharmaceutical care and payment for cognitive services; others believe that such ploys merely muddy the waters and unnecessarily offend physicians.

Some doctor groups, indeed, have attacked the plan "as a mechanism to legitimize the role of the pharmacist as a primary counselor of patients about prescription medicines." They stated that "there is little evidence that retail pharmacists are routinely providing cognitive services [patient counseling] or, in fact, are capable of providing these services" (see Drug Topics, Jan. 6) which says something, loud and clear, about how well they understand what pharmacists do and would like to do under the banner of pharmaceutical care or pharmacist care.

Deep down, pharmacists are really hoping that MedGuide will melt away, killed by Congress for lack of support, leaving the marketplace in charge of the provision of prescription information. …

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