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Jay Pee Is Taking A Vacation, But How Do I Shut It Off?

June 16th, 2012 by Jim Plagakis

Siesta Beach on Siesta Key. At this time of the year, no crowds at the # 1 rated beach in the U.S.A. It is a ten minute drive from our place. We will pass a CVS, a Walgreens and an independent. I’ll close my eyes.

We will be in Sarasota until mid-July. I will do my best to not think about the downwards spiral that the non-pharmacist bean-counting Masters of the Universe have us spinning on. I will still read and answer e-mails from pharmacists and technicians. I will still add essays here, if I feel like it. I will still wonder how the K**** H******, 3 P X and the North Carolina Board of Pharmacy comes out. K***** hasn’t told me when the final deal will come down.

We really do need to step up and get a seat at the table. Pharmacy is near a wreckage because the power has been handed to smart aleck MBA Masters of the universe. Pharmacists have very little say about what happens in the business of pharmacy. Don’t tell me that a pharmacist came up with the $4.00 prescription. It was not a pharmacist who said, “Let’s give away $25.00 gift cards to get them to transfer prescriptions”.

More of the same. Everywhere you look, a shiny initiative is announced by a company. The Masters of the Universe have to do something to justify their salaries. What looks shiny and bright is just the old and dull polished. Dan’t you see a toothy grin when one of the Masters of the Universe says, “Let’s give away gift cards.” What the …..? How is this new? It is simply throwing money away. It is what they have been doing for over 30 years. They have shown me that they are not capable of creating the quantum shift that is the only way we can save pharmacy.

Here is what they do:

More…. Better…. Different .

They take the old, tired, broken ideas and they try to do it MORE. If that doesn’t work (And it never works) they try to do it BETTER. (More failure). The last hope is to try to do it DIFFERENT. (It is still the same smelly crap)

No matter what they try to get a competitive advantage, IT IS THE SAME AS THEY HAVE TRIED HUNDREDS OF TIMES. Customers are not impressed. They do not even hear the television commercials. It is expensive white noise.

You can start by snickering when you are informed of a new, shiny program thought up by the Masters of the Universe. It is not new. It is simply ridiculous. The MBA non-pharmacists bean-counters have NO STANDING in the pharmacy. They do not even hear the music. You, on the other hand, are Travolta. You dance the dance without even thinking about it.

The MBAs have never stood at the drive through. They have never been in the grinder that is retail chain pharmacy on a Friday evening around 5:30 PM. They have NO STANDING. Why should anyone listen to them? Why show the people who are ruining us any respect? They need to get out in the variety store where they belong. Think about it. If could not be worse if they hired a grocery store manager to run the show. Oh, they did. The CEO of Rite-Aid is a grocer from Pathmark Grocery.

I worked for Pay ‘n Save ( a Seattle Company ). In the 1990s, they had a committee of feet-on-the-floor pharmacists review and talk about the programs that came from the executive suite. The committee gave thumbs up or thumbs down. There were few, if any, !**@! promotions, policies or programs.

The biggest question, I think, is: How are pharmacists going to get seats at the table? I believe that pharmacists could make the difference if they were given the opportunity.

I see no value in a $25 gift card. They transfer their Rx, get the card, then transfer it the another place to get a gift card there. MORE, BETTER, DIFFERENT. The same old !**@!.

Professional services. We have to do better. There is a reward. When you counsel appropriately, you will find that some people will ask, “Is this something new?” Most appreciate the information. We need to shine a spotlight on the “duty to warn” station.

Pharmacists with a seat at the table! Pharmacists are smart people. Most of them know the business. Some of them are ready and able to go head to head with the Masters of the Universe if needed.

If you have NOT noticed, both the profession of Pharmacy and the business of Pharmacy are at a crisis point. I distinguish between the PROFESSION and the BUSINESS. The only thing that ties them together is that they happen in the same room.

You wear two hats. A huge business sombrero and a tiny professional beany. It is a screwed up deal and the road to what it is today is close to 40 years long. I have written extensively in my books about the history we have endured. I have practiced during three eras of pharmacy. The Classic Era that began with the Durham-Humphrey Amendment. The Modern Era that began with the Pharmacy Computer and software. The Dark Era that began when it was discovered that they could use software to spy on pharmacists.

The Modern Era was a terrific time to practice pharmacy. The Classic Era was when pharmacy was sent to the back of the bus. Durham-Humphrey was not well thought out. We became the doctors’ lackey and Pharma’s pimp. You know what is happening in the dark era.

Can the PROFESSION and the BUSINESS be saved? I believe so. We need pharmacists making decisions and choices. The big companies that have pharmacies need to stop throwing money at all of their problems. It does not work.

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