Walgreen’s bills itself as “The Pharmacy America Trusts.” With that trust comes the responsibility of an honest and ethical management of their patient’s health care. If America trusts them as they suggest, and honestly it’s probably hard to argue otherwise, due to their size they are the public face of pharmacy.
It’s not preferable that one, generic entity represents the varied world of pharmacy, but alas that is what we have to live with.
Imagine the shock pharmacists across the nation had when a little nugget of news appeared, even as it was clearly attempted to be brushed under the rug. That nugget? The creation of Wal-Beer.
We live in a massively evolving health care system in which pharmacists are fighting to rightfully assert themselves as a respected and educated member in modern collaborative practice. For too long we have been either dismissed or ignored, but in the last two decades have seen the profession begin to shred itself of those shackles and become an integral part in the management of a patient’s health.
And it is something to be applauded.
The bigger issue, something which I have touched on in the past, is that while those within the medical profession now readily acknowledge our presence, the public has a complete lack of understanding of our abilities. It is a fact that, at some point, will need to be addressed if we are to reach our full potential.
Now, the public will have Wal-Beer.
How morally and ethically responsible is it for the largest pharmacy chain in this country to create a beer label, with a low-ball price point, in the midst of this change? Pharmacy’s across the nation are refusing to sell cigarettes and alcohol in their pharmacy, yet Walgreen’s has decided to not only ignore this but to instead take it a step farther.
And don’t tell me that it’s okay to sell cigarettes in a pharmacy as the pharmacist can consul a patient on the negative aspects of smoking. The day that truly happens is the day the cigarettes are kept behind the pharmacy counter.
Fat chance of that.
Instead, “The Pharmacy America Trusts” is undermining everything we have fought for these past decades. In class we are preached “Patient Care, Patient Care, Patient Care,” and that our generation of pharmacists will be focused on this for our entire career in new and novel ways.
So how does Wal-Beer fit into that? How is what Walgreen’s doing an attempt to not only further the profession but increase the health of their patient population?
I realize that chain pharmacies are more profit driven than others, but this is a deplorable step even by those standards. Every day we deal with shrinking reimbursements and the lack of an ability to bill for basic services. This is what Walgreen’s should be focusing on and standing up against, not creating its own line of cheap beer.
The better question is, what will organizations like APhA say about it? Will they ignore it? Or will they stand up and denounce the creation Wal-Beer and what it means for the profession? A dare not to be overly dramatic and overstate the importance of doing so… but I’m not sure that would be overly dramatic.
Surely Walgreen’s isn’t the first pharmacy to attempt something of this nature, but as the face of the profession they should be held to a higher standard. If not by the public, then by their employees and the profession itself.
There are bigger fights on the horizon and many will dismiss this as something trivial. It is far, far from trivial however, and represents a dangerous tipping point for the profession. If we wish pharmacy to be properly understood and respected among not only our peers, but the public, we cannot condone this.
Until then, Walgreen’s shouldn’t be the pharmacy America trusts. Hell, they shouldn’t be the pharmacy pharmacists trust. Should they?