Magazine article Drug Topics

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way

Magazine article Drug Topics

It Doesn't Have to Be This Way

Article excerpt

An independent pharmacist and I were talking. Two of the middleaged troops, having a cup, complaining about the third parties perched in the trees waiting to get their chance at gnawing on the bones of pharmacy ... all of pharmacy: independent, chain, supermarket. "Hell, you deal with it every day. We are just carrion for the insurance vultures," he said.

"It's not over till it's over," I insisted. (Didn't Yogi Berra say something like that?) "Seems to me that pharmacy is doing a great impression of the Hatfields and the McCoys. We call each other competitors rather than colleagues."

I reminded him of the baby boomer crush that will hit the entire medical establishment within the next five years. I was ready to go into my litany about it being time for R.Ph.s to take back pharmacy as our own in the '90s. We're the ones on the factory floor. This profession belongs to the women and men who have pharmacist licenses on the wall; it is not the plaything of scavenging insurance companies. We take it seriously. Somehow, the entire profession is getting busted in the chops in the first round.

I don't visit with this guy very often, so flames were about to come out of my ears. But he put his hand up. "Jim, I didn't ask you over for a talk to get pumped up for the big game." It seemed like a shadow passed over him. "I wanted to tell you that I'm going to start closing on Sundays." My mouth dropped open. His store is everything you would want an independent drugstore to be.

"I'm just tired," he said. I could see the fatigue on his face. "I'm not going to put in nine hours just to break even--if I'm lucky." He smiled. "I'm going to go to the beach, take my wife to lunch, and use my Sundays to rest, to have some fun." He was smiling now. "I just have a request," he said. A heavy sigh. "Take care of my customers if they need medicine." He looked at me. "Just a tablet or two of Lanoxin or other drugs for chronic conditions. …

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