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    The vertebral solution

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    David Stanley, RPh
    This is a story about pharmacists who have had enough. Pharmacists who are mad as hell and aren't going to take it anymore. Pharmacists who do more than just talk. Pharmacists who conceived a plan, organized, stuck together, executed that plan, and got results. And I swear I'm not making any of it up.

    $$ for meds ... What a concept

    It started in January, when a group of pharmacies stopped filling prescriptions for anyone not paying the full cash price at the time of dispensing. Third-party payers owed the pharmacists too much money, customers were told, so they would have to save their receipts and send in claims themselves. It would mean a wait of up to two months to get their money back.

    In less than two weeks, the third-party insurance payers caved. Some of the money owed was paid, and the rest, it was promised, would be delivered in installments. Again, I'm not making this up. It really happened.

    By April though, things had deteriorated. The national pharmacists' association sent out a call for pharmacists in two major cities to join in a protest, and once again prescriptions became cash and carry.

    Some of you now may have your mouths open in disbelief, unable to imagine the American Pharmacists Association sticking up for the interests of its members so forcefully.

    You would be right, of course. It was the GPhA that went to bat for the profession — as in the Greek Pharmacists Association. The pharmacists who stood up for themselves were doing so in the birthplace of democracy. When I read this story, I wondered whether maybe we could hire some of these GPhA guys to come over for the next Express Scripts shareholders' meeting.

    I've heard many people say that pharmacy is the doormat of healthcare, that ours is a profession of codependency, giving to others to the point of destroying our own interests. Not very long after I read about those Greek pharmacists, though, I saw another story of how some of our colleagues got a little creative in protesting the state of their profession.

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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]