Wednesday, October 14, 2009

APhA Starts To Engage Me In Dialogue. Then Abruptly Stops.

I gotta admit I was a little shocked when this showed up in my mailbox out of the blue:

Hi Mr. Drugmonkey,

I wanted to see if you'd be interested in an interview opportunity with Kristen Binaso, Senior Director of the American Pharmacists Association,

Um, yes. Yes I would. I haven't been shy about my opinion of APhA, the professional association so ineffective it can't even get all the letters in its name capitalized, and there are few things I would enjoy more than the chance to tear into one of their egghead, self important, ivory tower useless suit types busy "shaping the future of the profession" while the profession dies.

I thought to myself that maybe if you wish hard enough for something you really will get it. The e-mail then continued:

According to the FDA, over 1.2 million people each year suffer from injuriescaused by medication errors. Choosing your pharmacist carefully is crucialto your overall health; but it's an aspect of the health care process that'soften overlooked.

In this interview opportunity Kristen will discuss:
- Why choosing a pharmacist is just as important as a choosing a doctor

- Why it is important to see the same pharmacists and keep accurate, updated medication records

- Important questions every patient should ask their pharmacists

I see. A lamefest. How unexpected from APhA. I bet this was tied in with some sort of campaign to let people know not to keep their medicine in the bathroom medicine cabinet as well. We all know heart attack rates could be cut in half if only people could be convinced not to keep their medicine in the bathroom. APhA doesn't back away from the important issues.

At least, they wouldn't if I got a hold of them.

I emailed the PR hack back and told him I would be delighted to interview the good Ms. Binaso. I was very polite and grown up about it. I really wanted this interview. PR hack writes me back:

Does 7:30am ET work for you?

Here's what we can do: you can interview Kristen over the phone, but we'll tape her live from our studio as you're conducting the interview. Then we'll edit the audio with the footage and produce a Web video of the interview that you can embed on your blog -- or you can use the content to write a post.

My God I was living in some sort of wet dream. Not only would I get a chance to corner APhA about how they are fiddling as the profession burns, but it would be on tape! I was salivating.....literally salivating.

Not for me so much....but for you. Because everything I do is for you guys.

A few hours later I get this from the PR hack:

I'm really sorry, but we're going to have to cancel the interview. I thought we had a free time slot, but there was another commitment I wasn't aware of. Would you still be interested in emailing some questions that we can have Ms. Binaso answer and using the content for a post? Feel free to send me some questions.

Again, really sorry about this.

"I'm really sorry" of course, means in this case: "someone in the office finally got around to actually reading your blog"

Still, I figured I might as well play out the string here. I sent the good Ms. Binaso the following questions:

1) Ms. Binaso, you seem to be in a unique position in our profession, with both your experience at APhA and "in the trenches" of retail pharmacy. As APhA points out, the FDA says over 1.2 million people each year suffer from injuries caused by medication errors. We both agree that the best way to reduce medication errors is to have patient/pharmacist interaction, yet you surely see every time you call another pharmacy during your workday just how much of a challenge simply talking to a pharmacist can be at times. In an era of corporate pharmacy cutbacks, staff cuts, ever increasing workloads, and the constant promise of new technology that claims to increase time available for counselling but never actually seems to deliver more counselling time, what changes would APhA like to see that would move the profession in the direction of more personal interaction?

2) Do you think staffing levels in most retail pharmacies are adequate to provide mandated OBRA counselling on each new prescription? If so what do you see as the major barrier to OBRA compliance and how do we change it?

3) The name of your organization is The American PHARMACISTS Association. What in your opinion are the major concerns of the average retail pharmacist and how is APhA working to address these concerns and advocate for the rank-and-file members of our profession?

Here's a hint as to what kind of an answer I got back:

"Hello darkness my old friend" What an appropriate song, as APhA is the darkness masquerading as the professions friend. What an appropriate picture. Simon and Garfunkel running away in silence from the mighty Drugmonkey. Remember, I didn't start this, it all began with an unsolicited e-mail from them.



Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered going to a school and informing pharmacy students -- maybe even, contributing to build the future pharmacist leaders? The subject could be: Modern Pharmacy

DrJohn said...

Dear Mr. Monkey,

(or is Dr. Monkey?)

The APhA is a plaque association. That has nothing to do with teeth. It has to do with shit they put on their walls to show everyone how important they are.

Join up get a plaque. Go to the annual meeting get a plaque. Become an officer, Oh my God, get a BIG plaque.

I've been a Pharmacist since before the invention of the typewriter and in all those years I have yet to get offer to join the club since my student membership ran out. Funny headhunters can find me, but the APhA has no idea.

Useless bags O' Dung they are.


Anonymous said...

You rock.

Anonymous said...

i had an APhA presentation between classes today... i didn't sign up because i read this blog earlier in the morning

Anonymous said...

Srsly. Im amazed how lame APHA is. The other pharmacy mags are lame as well. Indie pharmacies are fighting for their lives and not a peep from them ;(

Insurance companies have started to reimburse below cost, the DEA wants a list of who which customers pay in cash...and apha has bigger concerns

Mildly Irritated Pharmacist said...

But how dare you forget that APhA's "Hug a Pharmacist" week is coming up October 17th through the 24th! Hugging your pharmacist has been proven to improve medication-related outcomes, enhance efficacy and embiggen counseling tenderness!

"Hug your Pharmacist Week", of course, is brought to you by Pristiq (desvenlafaxine) tablets! Pristiq, because finally someone had the presence of mind to put a carbon copy of Effexor XR into a cute square tablet. The war on depression is over!

I would love to know why APhA doesn't advocate things that will actually give pharmacists the time to do MTM and all the clincal things that we're apparently supposed to be doing. Not to mention not kill people because corporate thinks we can magically check one new prescription every 20 seconds?

Beth said...

I love you DrugMonkey... You make my day worthwhile (when you post!). I had to wait on hold for over 30 minutes with a Walgreens one evening before I finally gave up. I feel your pain, honey!

Anonymous said...


Apparently you haven't gotten the memo that the job of pharmacists is to shut up and do the bidding of doctors and Big Insurance/Big Pharma/Big Drug Retail.

In other words, good luck trying to tear a little sliver of power away from those two groups.

hope said...

I can tell you this. It isn't really any better in hospital, where you are expected to cheerfully grow a third arm because you are making a decent wage, but you will never have enough help/equipment/stock/drug references for the totally weird stuff that comes up.

Tonight I am tired and discouraged, and sure of only one thing. I picked the wrong profession. No matter what arena I've been in, it's a war zone too much of the time. I know I help people. I've had some seriously good outcomes. But at the end of a day like today, or a day like yesterday, and faced with the knowledge that we are going to drop the ball yet again as a nation and let those fucking insurance companies dictate what we get as a national health plan, well, to say I'm discouraged may be a mild understatement.

Is beer drinker a job?

You bet it is.

Maybe it's time to stop looking for the holy grail of a job location, and start looking for a different profession all together.

What keeps YOU in the trenches?

blackbirdcoaching said...

Dear Hope,
I know exactly what you are talking about and leaving the profession is exactly what I'm doing!
I am now helping others to take control of their lives and stop feeling so stuck by the license they hold. I am a pharmacist and a life coach and I believe that life is only as fulfilling as we make it. It is time for some serious changes in ourselves and within the profession.
This blog and others are a great start!

DrJohn said...

Mr. Blackbird,

Let's see. You are a Life Coach? And your choice for careers was Pharmacy? Holly Shit, why would I want you to be directing my life? Your choices were really douche bag.

Your friend,

Dr John (come here selling your crap and you get flamed)