Magazine article Drug Topics

The Pharmacist's Quintessential Art

Magazine article Drug Topics

The Pharmacist's Quintessential Art

Article excerpt


A patient recently complained to a pharmacist in California about the price of a compounded prescription. He belly-ached that the doctor had said it should only cost $20.

Our good friend looked the patient in the eye and said, "Have your doctor make it, then."

Consider this: Only the pharmacist is trained and qualified to compound prescriptions. Compounding is still the quintessential talent of a pharmacist. This ability is not something to be humble about. You need to flaunt it and you need to get well paid to do it. No other health professional would dare to try to whip up even a simple insoluble powder into a base such as Aquaphor.

There are technicians who are very competent compounders, but they are pharmacist-trained. The pharmacist is the one responsible, Ike the poor guy from Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland. He lost his job, he lost his license forever, and he lost his liberty. The technician made a terrible mistake and the pharmacist got six months behind bars and another six with an ankle monitor. At the time, in Ohio, if they could pass a criminal background check, any warm body off the street with a high school diploma or GED could be a pharmacy technician. It took the gruesome death of a two-year-old to get the state to require that prospective pharmacy technicians prove that they are competent. Be wise. Take the time to give your technician's work more than a perfunctory check.

1954 is not that far back in my rear-view mirror. That was when the Durham-Humphrey Amendment caused the differentiation between legend drugs (Now called Rx Only) and over-the-counter medicines. Hubert Humphrey was a pharmacist from Minnesota and his new law gave birth to Pharma. It took a few decades to really gain speed, but all of a sudden in 1 954 a new game was created. One-strength-fits-all products. The claim that they were not safe for self- use and they were deemed to be legend drugs.

Chortle, chortle, chortle. Pop the corks. light up the big cigars. Stuff the money into the bag and run to the bank. Everybody loved the idea of the standardized, shiny-red, sugar-coated tablets. The football-shaped ones came in more than one color and we bought them by the ten thousands. It was pretty slick to be able to fill a prescription just by counting out some tablets. …

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