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    Fox in the henhouse

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    David Stanley
    If you plug away filling prescriptions for one of the nation's large drugstore chains, I have a little game for you. I want you to think about your boss for a second and come up with three words to describe him or her. Take your time ... I'll wait. OK, ready? I'll bet that some of you readers might have used words like "hardworking" or "driven" to describe those above you in the corporate hierarchy. I'd also guess that a greater number said something like "jerk" or some other pejorative not printable in a family magazine.

    The million dollar question

    Now that I have you thinking about your boss, here's the real question I want you to answer: Would you trust your boss, or those above your boss, to make the right decision, even if it went against the interests of your employer? Because that's exactly what many states in this country do in appointing employees of the major drug chains to State Boards of Pharmacy.

    Think about your boss again. If it came down to advancing public safety or meeting a business goal, which is your boss likely to choose? In an age of 15-minute prescription guarantees and $4 generics, of POWER programs and orders for pharmacists to fill prescriptions while computers are offline or be fired, what do you think the chances are that your boss would give a fair hearing to anyone concerned that one of those policies might impact patient safety? Be honest.

    The new reality

    Back in the days when pharmacists were independent professionals, you could make a case that it made sense for Pharmacy Boards to be made up of members of the profession. Control of pharmacy was spread over thousands of power centers, and egregious practices at any one of them were likely to be soon corrected. The pharmacist as independent practitioner long ago stopped being the model though, and the number of power centers in our profession today is far smaller. So the number of people you have to convince that a major change is not egregious is also far smaller than it used to be. Which means that the need for an outside, independent panel to judge the impact of pharmacy on the public is far more important today than ever.

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