Is Pharmacy Practice Political?

Fred M. Eckel, RPh, MS, Pharmacy Times Editor-in-Chief
Published Online: Tuesday, June 1, 2004

Although the title of this commentary is phrased as a question, judging by the number of different national pharmacy practice organizations holding legislative conferences in Washington, DC, the answer might be yes. The same is true in most states where the pharmacy association holds a "Pharmacy Day in the Legislature." Why is this done? You and I both know that the decisions made by state or national legislators have a direct impact on our profession's activities. Whether it is a state-level initiative to control the practices of pharmacy benefit managers or national legislation to pay for drugs for the elderly, how these efforts play out can have a dramatic influence on what we do as pharmacists. This would suggest a role for each pharmacist.

Here are some examples:

  1. Get to know your legislators at the state and national levels. It is easier to get their attention if they know you.
  2. Contribute to the campaign of those candidates running for office who support your position. It is easier to elect candidates who support your position than to get an elected official to change his or her position.
  3. Contribute to the Political Action Committee of the pharmacy organizations that are working on your behalf. The collective influence of pharmacy is stronger when political contributions are large enough to get attention.
  4. Use your contacts with consumers to promote your positions on your candidates. Pharmacists are in unique positions to garner votes, and votes speak to legislators.
  5. Join the professional association at the state and national levels that are working on your behalf politically. Membership dollars mean more lobbying resources and more votes represented.

Yes, pharmacy practice is political. Let us take advantage of our positions in the community to strengthen our political resolve.

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