Awaiting our day in court
Thank you for the informative article in your Aug. 7 issue, addressing the continuing efforts and determination of the nearly 4,000 independent and small chain pharmacies pursuing our discriminatory pricing cases against brand-name manufacturers, wholesalers, and mail-order pharmacies. As a point of clarification, we have sued the defendants under [both] the Sherman Act, as the class did, [and] the Robinson-Patman Act, which the class did not.
As the article states, our ultimate goal is to place the issue of the discriminatory pricing practices of brand-name manufacturers before a jury and ultimately stop the practices. We who opted out of the class in order to file these separate independent suits did so with that primary objective in mind.
For more than two decades, pharmacy organizations have fought for a fair, equitable, and open pricing system that provides all pharmacies with equal access to discounts. Our opt out group was created to provide an alternative to the class action litigation so that if the class efforts failed to reach the goal, which unfortunately they did, independent pharmacy would still have the opportunity to have its day in court. As your article stated, the class action cases were brought [only] under the Sherman Act. We continue to pursue the Sherman Act claims for our group while preparing for the day when the court allows the Robinson-Patman claims to also move to center stage.
Now that both political parties and the media have come to understand the dramatic and unjustified variance in prices of brand-name drugs at the wholesale level, it is becoming evident to the entire nation that manufacturers' pricing practices result in community retail pharmacies paying the highest wholesale prices in the world. Subsequently, that results in America's elderly and uninsured too frequently having to ration, skip, and omit their medications. While some purchasers favored by the manufacturers receive hundreds of millions in kickbacks and discounts, the nation's uninsured population often struggles with the decision to buy food or buy medicine.
For those reasons and those people and to recover as much as possible of the financial damages inflicted on our businesses, we persist and are determined to prevail.
Larry L. Braden, Chairman Steering Committee
Independent Pharmacies Opt Out Group
National Litigation Steering Committee
After reading your article "Osteoporosis: The next public health crisis?" (Drug Topics, June 19), I felt empty and underinformed. Ms. Stephens should look at the recent and compelling research in the area of integrative medicine that can make a difference for those millions of American women who are afflicted with osteoporosis.
All pharmacists know that exercise, calcium, and estrogen play a positive role in treatment; please tell them something they don't know. There is plenty of evidence to support magnesium as an important factor-perhaps even more important than calcium-in osteoporosis prevention, even though calcium is extremely critical (2:1 ratio Cal/Mag). Soy isoflavones-particularly ipriflavone, which strengthens bones-are also something pharmacists can recommend to patients with confidence and assurance. Progesterone can help bone density even if the patient cannot take estrogen. Pharmacists need to counsel patients more on all aspects of disease state management, not just drug therapy.
Dan Wagner, R.Ph., MBA Nubi-acy
They need each other
"We as pharmacy technicians are health-care professionals who assist pharmacists in providing the best possible care for patients." That statement comes from the Preamble of the Code of Ethics for Pharmacy Technicians. Its first three principles are:
A pharmacy technician's first consideration is to ensure the health and safety of the patient and to use knowledge and skills most capably in serving others. …