Citing patient safety value, APhA and NCPA strongly object to Wall Street Journal editorial calling pharmacists “needless middlemen”
On June 15, the CEOs of the American Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association sent the following letter to the editors of the Wall Street Journal, strongly objecting to the Journal’s June 12 editorial, “Letting the Docs Dispense.”
The editorial argued that physicians should be allowed to dispense medications without limitation, calling pharmacists “needless middlemen.” The full text of the APhA-NCPA letter follows:
To the editors:
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial “Letting the Docs Dispense” (June 12) entirely misses the major reason why pharmacists and physicians work together to dispense medications. It’s about patient safety. For hospitals to be accredited, pharmacists must review and validate prescriptions for this very reason. The same important collaboration is critical in all pharmacy settings, including community and long-term care.
Physicians and pharmacists have recognized this for many years. Increasingly, the two professions are building health care teams that put the patient at the center of the care model, leveraging the strengths and expertise of the other. In this model, pharmacists serve as medication experts, provide patients with added protections against drug interactions, support achieving medication optimization, and counsel patients on medication and health-related issues. This model has improved health outcomes and is reducing medication errors. It makes economic sense, too.
Additionally, the Journal ‘s reliance on accessibility to advance its argument abandons the facts. Local pharmacists see many more patients on a daily basis than any other health care provider, something especially true over the last several months. During COVID-19 crisis, pharmacies have remained open as essential businesses and pharmacists have served patients as front-line health care workers, risking their own personal safety while making sure the people in their communities had access to their medications. The WSJ Editorial Board’s prescription of physician dispensing is bad medicine for health care consumers as it eliminates an essential point of contact that is integral to optimal patient care and patient safety. Let’s use pharmacists more broadly, not less, to address these issues.
Scott J. Knoer, MS, PharmD, FASHP
Executive Vice President & Chief Executive Officer
American Pharmacists Association
B. Douglas Hoey
Chief Executive Officer
National Community Pharmacists Association