I am troubled by the rather dismissive tone of Dr Richardson’s May 2013 editorial regarding the clinical services proposals made by the BC Pharmacy Association in March of this year [“Pharmacists,” BCMJ 2013;55:181]. It appears that you have not read the proposals themselves but rather are commenting on a media story about the proposals.
The disparaging approach you have taken to addressing the opportunity to have pharmacists provide patient services like the treatment of minor ailments is regrettable. It does little to support the often-advocated position that physicians want to partner with other health care professionals.
You question whether pharmacist-administered flu shots have saved the health care system money. The answer is yes. Pharmacists are paid less than physicians to administer flu shots and so the more they do the more money is saved.
On the issue of the clinical services we believe should be adopted in BC, all are operating successfully in other provinces or other countries. Our concept is simple: improve access to patient care where appropriate and reduce costs to the health care system. Certainly it seems clear to pharmacists that the current health care system is unsustainable and all health care professionals need to do their part to practise to their full expertise in the delivery of patient-centred, safe, accessible care.
On the issue of pharmacists having a financial incentive to prescribe for minor ailments, the logic isn’t there. We have proposed that pharmacists be compensated for the patient interaction. There is no reason to believe that there is any greater likelihood that they would prescribe an unnecessary medication than would a family physician when dealing with a patient who has diaper rash or mosquito bites.
CEO, BC Pharmacy Association
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