Magazine article Drug Topics


Magazine article Drug Topics


Article excerpt

The problem of difficult doctors

The Rx below was presented on a Wednesday night. The doctor was not in his office again until Friday afternoon. The doctor actually disconnected the fax number that was printed on the Rx. He has a policy that he does not call pharmacies for any reason and will not let his office staff take a message. When we call, we are put on hold for 10 minutes until the M.D. finishes with the patient he is currently examining. Then he comes to the phone to speak with us. The patient was able to get through to the M.D. before we were. The M.D. was angry with us and told the patient the page number in his PDR to give us for looking up Acular, which is what he said the Rx was for. This is an example of what retail pharmacy is up against. It is not just insurers but difficult doctors.

Chris Heye, R.Ph.

ShopRite Pharmacy 257

West Milford, N.J.

Article changed behavior

Several months ago you published a very funny article on customer etiquette at the pharmacy counter (along the lines of "Do you do these 25 things to annoy the pharmacy staff?"). I'm a pharmacy tech in a chain of drugstores, and we laminated it to the counter for our customers to see themselves. A lot of behavior was corrected!

Kathy Vaccaro

Editor's reply: We're glad our Viewpoint, "A pharmacist's tongue-in-cheek guide to patient etiquette," Sept. 17, 2001, was able to do your pharmacy some good.

Generic incentive inadequate

Regarding the $1 fee Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois is offering pharmacists to initiate the change from brand to generic medication (Latelines, Sept. 2), a high-volume store could earn at least $5,000 in a quarter?

Let's see. Leaving out Sundays, that would give us 78 days to earn that $5,000.

We would need to make calls over at least 61 prescriptions each day Lets say you spend 10 minutes explaining this to the customer, then 15 minutes going through the channels to convince the doctor, you have just spent 25 minutes per prescription.

So you now have at least one employee working 24 hours each day, Monday through Saturday, calling on these prescriptions. And you make what? Oh, about $2.50 per hour. And what do you pay this employee per hour?

Oops, I think we just lost money. Wow, all this to save the insurance company $7 million. Then be rewarded by a cut in reimbursement next year Do the math! This is no great bargain. I admit, I am a tech and may not have the insight of pharmacists, but I do not see this as profitable.

Kathleen Heinzeroth, CPhT

Navarre, Ohio

I had to laugh when I read that starting in January Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois will pay R.Ph.s a whole dollar every time they persuade a patient to switch from a brand-name drug to a generic after checking with the prescriber. So I spend five to 10 minutes talking with the patient, then another five to 10 minutes getting hold of the prescriber, and at either interaction I can get a resounding "No" for a whole dollar.

What a deal for the PBM! It gets 20 minutes of a pharmacist's valuable time for $1 and potentially saves hundreds of dollars. This is unbelievably insulting. I would gladly tell Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Illinois what it could do with its dollar. I hope other pharmacists do the same. I do not know of any high-volume pharmacy or any pharmacy that has that much time to spare that it can allow such a gross waste of the pharmacist's time for so little compensation.

Frederick H. Swinkunas, R.Ph.

Hastings, Mich.

Editor's reply: I hear a lot of this kind of rhetoric from pharmacists like you, and my answer is always the same. …

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