Controlling Dispensing Docs


A report on the hefty markups on medications dispensed by physicians underscores the need for new controls.

The headline read: “Insurers Pay Big Markups as Doctors Dispense Drugs.”

"When a pharmacy sells the heartburn drug Zantac, each pill costs about 35 cents. But doctors dispensing it to patients in their offices have charged nearly 10 times that price, or $3.25 a pill," read the article. “At a time of soaring health care bills, experts say that doctors, middlemen and drug distributors are adding hundreds of millions of dollars annually to the costs borne by taxpayers, insurance companies and employers through the practice of physician dispensing.”

Wow, who would have thought that? Of course, I am being facetious. When someone takes on a role that is not part of their primary field, they do it primarily to make money.

As pharmacists, we also want to make money so we can stay in business—but we want to do it fairly, so we can stay in business. When the Boards of Pharmacy try to hold dispensing physicians to the same standards that pharmacists follow, some see this as a self-serving effort rather than one inspired by patient safety issues. But disclosures like this may help the Boards of Pharmacy better control dispensing by MDs.

What do you think?

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