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July 10, 2011

"Sneeze Whisperer" Target Pharmacy Commercial

Take a look at this commercial promoting Target Pharmacists as a "sneeze-whisperer"...



Though pharmacists are very important healthcare professionals who are essential to the management and distribution of prescription drugs, patients need to be aware that pharmacists may be financially rewarded to encourage patients to use certain drugs and not others without regard to whether a given medication may be better or not health-wise.

In fact, in some cases, pharmacists may automatically switch certain prescriptions to an alternative without patient or physician knowledge. In other situations, pharmacists may call physician offices asking if it is OK to switch a prescribed medication to an alternative for one reason or another (again, possibly due to unclear financial incentives).

To be fair, in an effort to cut costs, pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) who oversee pharmacies including Target Pharmacy as well as pharmaceutical companies, offer various incentives to encourage (or persuade) not only pharmacists to choose certain drugs over another, but also patients and physicians.

Such persuasion include:
- Higher copays for the patient who may ASK a drug to be changed to a cheaper alternative.
- Prior authorizations which in essence is paperwork harassment for the physician who may be influenced to prescribe alternative medications just to avoid the paperwork.
- TV Commercials (yup... just like the commercial mentioned above) informing patients that THEIR drug is the best
- Rebate coupons
etc etc

So... before you start thinking a Target Pharmacist is a true "sneeze-whisperer", consider all the other competing whispers a pharmacist hears... Copays, incentives, rebate coupons, patients, doctors, drug reps, PBMs, etc.

It should be obvious, but did want to point out that pharmacists do not receive any advanced medical training in allergy unlike an allergist who has dedicated literally YEARS to the subject.

References:
The effect of pharmaceutical benefits managers: is it being evaluated? Ann Intern Med. 1996 May 15;124(10):906-13.

Economic impact of pharmacist-reimbursed drug therapy modification. J Am Pharm Assoc (2003). 2011 Jan-Feb;51(1):58-64.

Drug Maker's Efforts to Compete in Lucrative Insulin Market Are Under Scrutiny. New York Times 1/28/2006
Fauquier blog
Fauquier ENT

Dr. Christopher Chang is a private practice otolaryngology, head & neck surgeon specializing in the treatment of problems related to the ear, nose, and throat. Located in Warrenton, VA about 45 minutes west of Washington DC, he also provides inhalant allergy testing/treatment, hearing tests, and dispenses hearing aids. Google+ Christopher Chang, MD Bio

1 comment:

  1. My son picked up a prescription for me that had been filled the day before. We live literally up the street. He came straight home, said the pharmacy was a "mess" without Faith being there (the manager) and handed me the bag. I pulled out the prescription to see if it was correct and the bottle was HOT. Not warm, but HOT. Plus there was paperwork in the bag for a different drug - one I do not even use. I had my son and my assistant feel the bottle and both men were shocked by the heat in the bottle. Since I use the medicine to control my diabetes and since extreme heat can affect medications, I called the store immediately, where I was placed on a long hold for the pharmacist, Naja, who said the area was climate controlled and she had no clue why the bottle was hot. My guess is that one of the very young people who work there accidentally gave my bag or attached my bag to someone else - someone who was supposed to get the paperwork in my bag. That person likely left it in a hot car before returning it. While the store said they do not take medications back, my guess is one of the young people didn't want to own up to the mistake, esp. if an elderly person handed it back (we live in a neighborhood with a number of retirees nearby). It took me 1.5 hrs and 8 phone calls to get someone to finally take this seriously. I was not given the go ahead to get replacement pills until the next day.
    Needless to say, I am moving ALL of my prescriptions, my husbands, my son's and mine to another store, one where we will be treated with respect. Why on earth would anyone say the bottle was hot and request different pills unless it was so. In addition, I had my assistant sign an affidavit as to the time and condition of the bottle and paperwork. For shame on Target and your employees. People get prescription drugs for conditions that would make them ill if the drugs did not work. Yet your store, it's managers, and employees didn't have a thimblefull of common sense to grasp this simple concept.

    I am switching to a pharmacy where the pharmacists care more for their patients and hopefully have some common sense. Target pharmacies suck.

    ReplyDelete

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