This rant is not so much about the what of pharmacy as it is about its where. In real estate parlance that would be location, location, location. Or because I work and live in the same town you could put it another way, “Don’t shit where you eat.” Rolling out of bed and into work has its advantages, but as you may surmise, also has its drawbacks.
After trudging through another three day work weekend, where the customers are kind enough to inform me how beautiful it is outside and insist on expressing their condolences that I have to work on such a day, I get a much needed day off. I’m fortunate to wake to a beautiful spring morning. There are birds singing and the sun is quickly warming up the day… so far, so good.
There are better ways to spend a day off, but today I have a scheduled visit to my dentist to have some old fillings replaced. His office is also in my home town. (Starting to see a pattern emerge here?) Going to the dentist doesn’t bother me. A little novocaine, my headphones, and I’m good. Why they insist on asking questions when your mouth is filled with a combination of hands, sharp pointed instruments and cotton batting is one of the predominant questions of our time, but they do, and with nods and hand gestures we communicate. Then I hear the words “not good”. I perk up. “Too much decay,” he says, “you need a crown.” I feel the beauty of spring slipping away as the sun fades behind gathering storm clouds…
Pharmacy is at a crossroads. We are not sure of our identity or ethos, and it’s time to get over the angst, get off our collective asses, and do something about it. The malaise of our profession goes back decades to the days of the literal corner pharmacy. We were friendly to each other, but always had our fingers crossed behind our backs when we agreed on things. God forbid we worked together for the greater good. When the first insurance plans that eroded our reimbursement rates were disclosed, we were up in arms. Then came the plans which prohibited the number of refills allowed at the retail level, thus initiating the mail order era. We had meetings and tacitly agreed not to take these plans. Of course, there were always one or two stores that wanted that leg up on the other guy and greedily signed the contracts. This was the death knell of a once respected profession and ushered in the era of pharmacy as a commodity. Chain pharmacy was poking its head up at this point in time and would sign any contract; so, the results were probably inevitable anyway, but independent pharmacists were the catalyst of this transformation. Once the flood gates were opened, the rush became indomitable, and professional pharmacy was doomed.