Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Asked to Join Forces with the Drug Industry

Magazine article Drug Topics

Pharmacists Asked to Join Forces with the Drug Industry

Article excerpt

Harold Chappelear speaks with the clear, measured cadence of an evangelist addressing his followers. A pharmacist, Chappelear has no pulpit and no flock. But he does have a very definite message to deliver: Pharmacists and drug manufacturers can and should work as allies.

"It is my firm belief that together, pharmacy and the pharmaceutical industry provide medications and technologies that address conditions for which there was once no hope," he told attendees at the Roy A. Bowers 41st Annual Rutgers Pharmaceutical Conference, held last month on the Rutgers campus in New Jersey. Chappelear, who is corporate executive v.p. for external affairs at The Upjohn Co., went on to say that together, pharmacy and industry impart an enhanced knowledge of the sciences that "is making life better for millions of people around the globe."

"I believe together we bring an enormous amount of compassion, care, and concern to our customers, the patients," he continued. "We share an obligation to help those patients. But we also share an obligation to help move the system forward; to ensure that we continue to gain the public's confidence and to safeguard our mission to discover, develop, and deliver the newest and most innovative medicines possible."

Some of those concerned with health care in this country, "particularly our friends inside the beltway down there (in Washington)," have overlooked the drug industry's contributions, Chappelear said. Public discussions center only on rising prices, drug diversion, the uninsured, and healthcare costs as a percentage of gross national product. Detractors suggest that Americans have to spend too much on their medications in order to support the industry's marketing practices.

Yet, Chappelear said, innovative pharmaceuticals are and will continue to be the most cost-effective way to treat patients and bring them back to good health. Backing up his words with numbers, the R.Ph. told the audience that as a result of drug therapy, the cost of treating gallstones is about $1,500, compared to an estimated $4,000 for traditional surgical removal.

A year's worth of drug treatment for a schizophrenic patient can cost as much as $9,000, the R.Ph. continued. However, pharmaceuticals may then make it unnecessary to institutionalize that patient at an annual cost of about $90,000. Similarly, ulcer patients who spend $500 on a year's supply of medication may avoid a $7,200 surgical intervention, he said.

The cost of treating coronary artery disease with drugs is $1,000, while surgical intervention can cost between $30,000 and $50,000, Chappelear said. …

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