Magazine article Drug Topics

A Look Back at an Incredible Journey

Magazine article Drug Topics

A Look Back at an Incredible Journey

Article excerpt

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After eight years as executive director of the Mississippi Board of Pharmacy, I retired early this year. It was an honor and a pleasure to work with the outstanding men and women who served as board members and staff.

As I reflect on the changes that took place over my tenure, I realize what an incredible journey it has been. During my time as executive director, I observed that:

* Patients are more affluent, live longer, and have more complex health problems.

*While pharmacists now earn more, they work much harder and have greater responsibilities.

*Pharmacists are now predominately female, the opposite of when I started.

* The focus of pharmacy education has changed from a compounding and dispensing practice to a more patient- and disease-oriented practice.

Shortly before I started practicing, pharmacists were forbidden to discuss drugs or health conditions with their patients. It was considered an encroachment on the patient-physician relationship. However, some pharmacists violated the rules in the belief that they were assisting their customers. Today, we have pharmacists benefit their customers through disease management, administering injections, initiating drug therapy, and modifying drug therapy based on protocols.

Remember when online adjudication of claims began? It wasn't such a big deal, because only a few customers had drug benefit cards. PAID was one of the first, along with PCS. But these were mostly in the states where automobile manufacturing was big and unions had contracts covering health care. We were pleased with this new technology because it helped reduce some charge account problems. The fees were great-a $6 dispensing fee when the average prescription price was $6-- unlike today, when the average dispensing fee is under $3 and the average prescription price is at least $40. And pharmacy benefit managers didn't practice pharmacy then.

The education today's pharmacy students receive is far superior to that of their peers of yore in the areas of patient care and disease states. They also have a lot more drugs to learn about.

in years past, the pharmacist had only a few potent drugs available, such as penicillin, Amoxil, sulfur, and Lanoxin. Just think, in 1970 there were no effective anti-- anxiety products, few effective anti-- hypertensives, no antihyperlipidemia agents, few effective anti-- arthritics, no hair restoratives, and no Viagra! Actually, the great majority of improvements in drug therapy have occurred during my time in this industry. …

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