Good evening ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the latest in our series of debates covering all things pharmaceutical. I think we can all agree that the only constant in our profession is change, and that in the last generation the changes in pharmacy have been tremendous. It is hard to believe that in today's world of pharmacy residencies, MTM, provider status in California, and our role on the front lines of vaccination, that there was a time, and not that long ago, when pharmacies weren't even required to keep a permanent patient profile.
Or is that a customer profile? That is our question tonight as one of the largest pharmacy operators in the country takes on The American Pharmacists Association over the question, "The people we serve, patients or customers?"
First off, let me say Rite Aid, it takes a certain amount of courage for you to even show up here. I mean, even when I was back in college, it was pretty universal to refer to those on the other side of our counter as "patients." I can remember the quickest way to get some APhA nerd's boxers in a bunch would be to either use the word "customer." or "retail pharmacy," yet here you are, right here on stage with the most powerful professional pharmacy organization in the country.after contending in a court of law in Landay v Rite Aid that the people you fill prescriptions for are most certainly customers.
"Power is relative Drugmonkey. That will be the lesson in this little exercise"
I see, well, I'm sure the people at APhA are champing at the bit to get their point of view in here, so without further delay....Hm, I see there are two people at the APhA table, I was only expecting a PR representative, who are you sir?
"Saul Goldenstein, chief counsel for the organization"
"But...this isn't any kind of legal proceeding, it's just an informal.... "
"MY CLIENT HAS RIGHTS!!!!!"
"Very well.....would you like to make an opening statement?"
Mr. Goldenstein whispers intently into the APhA official's ear for 15 seconds, which is followed by another minute of silence"
"We cannot comment on an ongoing court case."*
Really? A company goes against the very essence of what you've been preaching for over 20 years and you just plan to sit there like a bump on a log?
"Well we think that while it's important..."
The man from Rite Aid now clears his throat loudly and glares
"Sigh, well I'm not totally surprised. Why don't I just go ahead and go over the basic facts of the case to bring our audience up to speed. Rite Aid had a policy of charging $50 a page for a person's prescription records, and was subsequently sued by someone who claimed that this was in violation of Pennsylvania state law, which sets the amount a patient can be charged for their own medical records. Rite Aid then countered that people who seek the services of a pharmacist are not patients, but customers"
"So let me just ask, really Rite Aid man? Did you seriously say that?"
Silence.....punctuated with a steely glare is the only response.
Well, no need to answer, as the court documents I have in my hand are crystal clear. You know what else I have in my hand? A press release from September 2010 where you used the word "patient" to describe the people you serve twelve times. Twelve. So, which is it? Maybe we should have scheduled this debate with your PR people, as they seem do be doing a better job of opposing you than APhA."
A loud chorus of laughter engulfs the auditorium
"YOU KNOW WHAT YOU LITTLE PRICK? YOU THINK THIS IS FUNNY???? DO YOU??? WELL YOU'RE FIRED!!! FIRED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
"Yeah...um...you already blew that wad man. You can't do that twice. Whatever power you have over APhA, you got none over me anymore."
"WELL YOU CAN BE SURE YOU'LL NEVER WORK IN THE CHAIN DRUG INDUSTRY EVER AGAIN."
"And for that you have my eternal gratitude. APhA, are you sure there's nothing you'd like to say here?"
"Know your medicine, know your pharmacist!!"
"OK....well I think the conclusion of tonight's debate could not be more obvious. Thank you again Rite Aid, for coming here tonight and proving what most of us could never have believed. APhA continues to find ways to become more and more useless. I can only wonder at what they will do next. Any response to this at all APhA?"
"Is it time for a handshake picture now?"
*that's what they actually said on their Twitter feed, days after saying this issue would be "huge"