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    What's in a name, Part 2

    Rite Aid keeps fighting; APhA sits this one out

    I can’t believe I have to write this column, which will be my second one about Landay v. Rite Aid, a court case working its way through the Pennsylvania legal system that centers on whether people who patronize pharmacies are to be defined as “customers” or “patients.”  If you missed my January column, you might think it’s obvious which side Rite Aid would be on. You’re probably wrong. In that column I wrote that this case “made clear once and for all our relationship with the people we see,” and … I was wrong. To my surprise, this case continues.

    The back story

    First a quick recap. At the heart of Landay was a dispute over how much could be charged for access to a person’s prescription records. Pennsylvania law set a limit on how much a patient could be charged, which Rite Aid said did not apply to them, as the people it serves should be defined as customers. The company won the first round, when a judge compared what we do for people to the services of a yoga instructor. That decision was reversed on appeal, however; the second judge stated what most of us would say is obvious: “The practice of pharmacy is not limited to filling prescriptions.”

    When I wrote my last column, I assumed the matter ended there. I’m sure many readers know, however, that old truism about the word “assume.” I have learned that Rite Aid has appealed this decision, and while I’m no lawyer, it seems as if a central argument in the legal brief the company filed on January 22 is that it should be held to the standards of the profession in 1998, when the law in question was passed, and not those of today.

    I contacted the lawyer for the plaintiff, who told me in an e-mail that it would be safe to say that the third largest operator of pharmacies in the country is contending (1) that pharmacists are not healthcare providers, (2) that individuals who use the services of pharmacists are not patients, and that 3) pharmacy records are not medical records.

    If true, that’s a stance anyone associated with the pharmacy profession in 2014 should be embarrassed to admit in public.

    David Stanley, RPh
    David Stanley is a pharmacy owner, blogger, and professional writer in northern California. Contact him at [email protected]

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