Magazine article Drug Topics

The Reform Debate: Time to Bury Family Differences?

Magazine article Drug Topics

The Reform Debate: Time to Bury Family Differences?

Article excerpt

In unity, there's strength. In pharmacy's case, there's also survival.

So believes James Doluisio, dean of the University of Texas-Austin School of Pharmacy. Speaking at a Pharmacists Planning Service Inc. breakfast meeting sponsored by Drug Topics last month, he decried the "fractionated" image that national pharmacy associations are conveying in the health-care reform debate.

He was referring to the fact that two coalitions--NARD and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores on one side and the American Pharmaceutical Association, ASHP, and the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists on the other--have presented two different position statements to the White House (see Drug Topics, April 5).

Indeed, pharmacy associations should work together whenever they can, and that means consensus and compromise, commented Marily Rhudy, past president of the APhA and a Topeka, Kans., pharmacy owner, at the same Dallas meeting. But, she added, some of the tensions between associations are "healthy," and, rather than engage in petty rivalries, pharmacy should take the high road and talk about what it can do to reduce costs for the country and improve health care.

Another speaker, Joseph Oddis, executive v.p. of ASHP, offered this observation: "I see no reason why all of us in our respective practice settings cannot join forces to make continuity of care a hallmark of the profession--and a hallmark of pharmaceutical care in the American health-care system of the future....We can still disagree on some issues. We always will. Any family does. But I think there's a right time and a right place for that disagreement. It should take place when we're together as a family. It should not be exhibited when we're outside, in front of government officials...where it's absolutely critical we show unity."

One of the problems, said Doluisio, is that pharmacy lacks a common vision that's shared by all the groups. Not having such a vision sends "mixed signals" to those making decisions involving pharmacy. They would like to support pharmacy, but they don't know what it wants.

"The matter of unity is a matter of concern at the grass-roots level," said the pharmacy dean. Why the differences between organizations? They're just not understood by pharmacists in the field, he said.

Doluisio called on the various groups--perhaps through the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners--to develop a shared vision statement and to meet regularly and, together, work on issues before they turn into crises. …

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