Quid Pro Quo. How much can two people do?

Jp Enlarged

Pharmacists put out a helluva lot of money to the organization that owns this building.  When was the last time you left the store for a real, uninterrupted meal break?  How many of you still write a check every year?  

The following was written for the website of The Pharmacy Alliance

There have been a number of pharmacists lately criticizing, belittling and demeaning The Pharmacy Alliance.

They attack, claiming that the website is ill-maintained.  That is true.  I offer any of you who want it, the title of Website Manager for The Pharmacy Alliance.   Of course, I doubt that any of you will volunteer.  Very few of our members are willing to do anything other than pay the dues… one time.   At least the members aren’t rubbing their hands together after they have written an email to me telling that the organization is just a piece of shit because we are not leading the way in anything.

Really?  What have you done to bring the pathetic and dangerous working conditions to the light of day?  What have you done to make known to the public just how dangerous it is to have an exhausted pharmacist handle prescriptions at hour 13 of a 14 hour day?

It is no secret that TPA is not the A.Ph.A.  The A.Ph.A. is huge and it is said nothing that has helped you to get a meal break.  The organization with the magic name sort of smiles when called out.  David Stanley nailed the A.Ph.A. in one of his first Drug Topics columns.  A new pharmacist had written to him, complaining about the lack of help, long hours and errors.

A.Ph.A. CEO Thomas E. Menighan blew all of us in a letter to David.

“I certainly feel for the situation,” he said, “If someone is feeling beaten by the ‘system’, no one can say they are wrong.  He then quickly changed the subject to M.T.M. and flu shots.  He actually wrote the high sounding stuff about, ‘Improving medication use and advancing patient care’.  ( and they have the nerve to put the words American and Pharmacists in their title) He went on, “We have members on all sides of this equation.  Our challenge as a membership is to unify”.

What is the equation?   Org + RPh = ZERO?

What makes the A.Ph.A. different from The Pharmacy Alliance?  TPA does not blow smoke, take in millions of dollars and still does nothing.

We are a tiny, little group of pharmacists who want to make a difference.  Our only mission is to return Dignity, Self-Respect and Integrity to the job of working in a pharmacy.   What is so wrong with that?  How does that make us a piece of shit?  Tell me why I have been stupid since November, 2007?   That is going on six years of abiding faith that you guys will eventually decide to get on board and get this done.  Perhaps I am just a dreamer.  I am getting tired with so little help.

Here is what we do with the members money.

We pay expenses and that is not very much.

Every other dollar, as long as it lasts, is to pay for these per diem expenses to any member who will personally attend a meeting (best one on one) with a state legislator, state board member, a journalist or (best of all) an investigative reporter who is likely to blow the top off the charade that is what some companies present as a patient-centric business.

TPA will reimburse.

One night hotel room at a reasonable rate.

Two meals

Gas money

That is the best we can do right now.  For you who have to try to take down any and all honest efforts, the conditions you work under are on you.   Don’t whine to me, or Peon, or Goose and you know the rest of the names.

 Jim Plagakis, Founding Member of The Pharmacy Alliance.






  1. Pharmaciststeve  •  Feb 7, 2013 @2:03 pm

    JP.. as you have pointed out… any association runs on money and volunteers.. if you do neither.. don’t expect much representation..

    The APHA.. like most larger organizations.. depend on monies from outside entities.. and that money typically comes with some influence on the association or fear/paranoia from the association that if they step on someones toes.. the monies will disappear.

    I would bet that any association told their membership that we are dumping all outside contributions.. so that we are beholding to anyone.. BUT.. your dues are going to double/triple … the resulting whining and bellyaching would be deafening… the number of members dropping out would sound like a H-bomb going off..

    As I remember – and correct me if I am wrong – but one the founding principles was that the TPA was going to be self-funded.. beholding to no one.
    The TPA agenda is determine by and for the membership.. no one else.. Of course, our primary goal is pt safety and be opposed to anything that puts that at risk.

    Just like those poor chain slaves.. we are doing the best job we can given the resources that we have..

    I am thankful for a VOIP phone service and emails.. otherwise I would be spending a fortune on those two items.. if I had to pay for long distance and postage.

    I have seen/heard where many RPH’s that have gotten booted out near retirement.. have just washed their hands of the profession and retired
    .. what a shame.. they have the least to lose, the most experience and the most time on their hands.

    If the younger generation is working for a paycheck, the Senior RPh’s have washed their hands and the Associations are more interested in where “we could be in 10 yrs”.. I know that I hear some of the same rhetoric, speculation and promises that I heard 45 yrs ago in school.. tomorrow is always a day away… and 10 yrs is always a decade away…

  2. bcmigal  •  Feb 7, 2013 @2:09 pm

    add this to the memo (paraphrased) that new grads are better equipped to do MTM


  3. Pharmaciststeve  •  Feb 8, 2013 @12:25 am

    Virginia is giving the RPH’s in the state the opportunity to make a positive change toward pt safety


    read lower right column page one…

  4. Peon  •  Feb 8, 2013 @12:51 am

    The American Pharmacist Association should drop the word ‘Pharmacist’. They do not represent pharmacists! Their orientation is toward getting more and more funding and providing educational services to pharmacy community. They do not do anything to promote the improvement of pharmacy for pharmacists. They do not stand up and say that pharmacists should have meal breaks and other breaks. They do not represent pharmacists in the growing area of corporate metrics, which is a growing frustration and waste of time for pharmacists. They do not provide any support for pharmacists being fired from their jobs because of ‘age’. In fact, they do not do anything to help improve the working environment for pharmacists. For decades they have had ‘pharmacist’ in the name of their organization. And, there has been an idea in many circles that they represented pharmacists and were THE pharmacist organization. In truth, we have NO strong pharmacy organization. The Pharmacy Alliance has been an effort by a few pharmacists to organize pharmacists and fight for improved working conditions for pharmacists and to put professionalism back in pharmacy within the chains. With the growing discontent of pharmacists, the number of pharmacists losing their jobs and being fired for any and every reason, you would think that pharmacists would begin to look toward supporting a pharmacy organization that was oriented toward improving pharmacy for them. We cannot continue to travel along the road we are going without a severe deterioration in what we have known as pharmacy. The thousands of pharmacists that have sat on the sidelines are in danger of losing their livelihood. They are even more in danger of continuing down the road to complete corporate servitude. How pharmacists can sit back, and let these chains enslave them and toss them under the bus at a whim, is beyond my comprehension. This year my attitude changed toward my chain after I tried unsuccessfully to get some things done to improve the chain and provide better customer service. I knew there was a growing trend in my chain toward complete corporate control of their pharmacies. I had some idea that a single pharmacist could still provide some input. But, I recently learned that I was wrong. My chain will no longer listen to anything we pharmacists have to say. This is just typical of the chain store world. Now, I feel I am in the same boat as most all the other pharmacists that work for chains. Without being able to provide any input, and the growing insecurity of a job, I have come to the conclusion that we pharmacists are at ‘war’. It is a war for our livelihood, for being able to provide good customer service, and to keep the image of ourselves as professionals. Yes, we are at ‘war’! The idea of us being ‘team’ players can be discarded. The only time corporate mentions us being a ‘team player’ is when they want something from us. But, if we want something from them, the ‘team’ suddenly disappears and we find we are at the bottom of a ‘military’ chain of command. Everything comes down that chain of command, but nothing goes back up it. As individual pharmacists, we are left alienated with absolutely no support nor protection from the whims of the corporations. Every single one of you pharmacists is at risk of losing your job for any reason! You can no longer sit snuggly in your comfortable chair at home and expect your job to be there tomorrow. The coming over abundance of pharmacists is going to drive these chains to ever more severe control and enslavement of us. It would not surprise me at all if pharmacist salaries dropped dramatically in the coming years. The institutions that created us is now on the path to destroying us.
    I have tried for a long time to get my fellow pharmacists to join me and to try and get other pharmacists to join, so that together, we can become a powerful force for change and improvement in pharmacy. I have worked a lot of hours, without pay, emailing pharmacists, professors, and anyone that would listen. Like JP, I am at the end of my pharmacy career. It bothers me a lot to see pharmacy moving in the direction in which it is moving. I could easily be one of those, like Steve has talked about, that just retired from pharmacy and said the heck with it and took off to the golf course. But, I am a ‘fighter’ and I am, above all else, ‘persistent’. I have looked at each and every angle possible to find away to leverage our little bit of power into something much bigger. I don’t want to see the ‘ship of pharmacy’ go down without a fight.
    I beseech each and every one of you that reads this blog to become a ‘warrior’ for pharmacy. Participate in the pharmacy blogs, especially this one hear. Every voice counts! You are never too small to not be counted. You don’t have to say much…but tell your experiences and express your opinions. If you have an idea on how to go about winning the ‘battle’ with the chains, then I would certainly like to hear it. We are hearing a lot of rumblings in ‘pharmacy land’. Pharmacists are being fired for some of the most ridiculous reasons. It looks like older pharmacists are having the rug pulled out from under them and their jobs being given to younger pharmacists that will work cheaper.
    JP has taken a stance toward ‘The Pharmacy Alliance’. He is saying that anyone that wants to take up the cause and principles of ‘The Pharmacy Alliance’, that they are welcome to do so. Essentially where we are at this moment in time, is a place where pharmacists don’t have many leaders, and pharmacists should become their own leaders. You can no longer sit back in your cozy world and expect good things to come to you. The years ahead will be years of ‘war’ or total capitulation. It is time for pharmacists to volunteer for causes that are fighting for pharmacists. It is time for each pharmacist to fight for the cause of his fellow pharmacist. Some of us have written/phoned some of the pharmacists that have blogged here regarding their being fired. We have tried to provide some support.
    The cause of pharmacy is not lost and will not be lost until all pharmacists capitulate and become complete corporate slaves. The golden age when pharmacists could have easily joined together and forced change has come and gone. But, all is not lost. The world of pharmacy is in transition. Graduating from pharmacy school is no longer a guarantee of a good job with a good salary. The future looks like the salary will no longer be good and the job will be terrible. Middle aged pharmacists are seeing how easily they can be tossed under the bus. The change and the uncertain can be driving forces, and it could lead to pharmacists overcoming their smug attitudes and their apathy. It is time we all came together. It is time we all gave of our time to the cause of pharmacy for pharmacists. It is time we all worked for ways and mechanisms to break these tyrannical corporations. If you think by working for a chain and listening to all the corporate rhetoric that you are suppose to be a ‘team player’… I can tell you that you are living in a fairy tale world. There is no team! It is you do and do and not get anything in return and not even a bit of input into the way your pharmacy is operated. Oh…the words of these corporations come smooth to the tongue about how valuable you are and how much they appreciate you. The next thing you know they have tossed you out in the street. You have absolutely NO JOB SECURITY!
    Again, I beseech you to take part in a new adventure, a veritable war, to improve pharmacy FOR PHARMACISTS! The first step is to come here and express yourself and tell your story. From a small beginning, a great movement can start. We have the internet and we can use it. Communicating with each other…sharing ideas…working together…we can change the face and future of pharmacy.

  5. Pharmaciststeve  •  Feb 8, 2013 @2:05 pm

    @Peon.. we are part of a team.. we are the “water boy”… the “ball boy”… the “towel boy”..

    If this was a game of chess… we would be the pawns…

  6. drsteverx  •  Feb 8, 2013 @3:29 pm

    Been reading the blogs for a little while now. First comment. I wished I would have known about some of these activities awhile ago. I got out of Big Stupid and senseless metrics about a year and half ago to start my own place. Of course now instead of metrics I am fighting the losing fight with PBMs. Before I left I could see the writing on the wall that there was no future for me at the chains. Grind you up and move on to the fresh grad that will put up with it.
    I am somewhat proud that I didn;t give on quite a few issues. The last few years I frequently said no to my DM which felt good but could never get the others in the area (we had four stores) to come to the same conclusion. Over time this was probably going to end poorly for me either by getting fired eventually or giving in and killing someone with a mistake. I speak with my friends regularly and it is always getting slightly worse there. Death by a thousand cuts. I tell them to stand up for themselves, for instance schedule more than what they say you can. I often wrote in hours after the schedule went through the computer. Never heard anything unless I put more into the computer first.
    But just like a few posts ago, many of them keep spending their money so they become indentured and have to tow the line. I need to start directing them to sites like this to get them motivated. It seems like the constant ass kickings by Big Stupid would be motivation enough but I guess not

  7. Peon  •  Feb 8, 2013 @6:50 pm

    Steve..,you forgot one…we are now suppose to ‘paint the walls’ in the pharmacy. Wal-Mart, at the height of their idiocy, is requiring pharmacy managers to paint a wall.

  8. WrongAid  •  Feb 9, 2013 @9:40 am

    What is this “paint a wall” stuff I keep seeing brought up?

  9. Peon  •  Feb 10, 2013 @8:57 am

    WrongAid, I know this will sound crazy to you. So, please do not try to think about it logically. Someone at Wal-Mart’s home office decided that one wall in their pharmacies should be painted blue. On that blue wall, they would hang pics of the pharmacists and techs along with their licenses and etc. You would think they would bring in a painter to paint the wall. But, no, you must remember that this is not logical. So, the pharmacy managers are responsible for painting the wall. Wal-Mart is calling this a ‘professional wall’. The only thing professional I can get from it is that a ‘professional’ pharmacist is painting the wall and that is what is making it a ‘professional wall’. :)
    So, now…if you want to be a pharmacy manager at Wal-Mart, you need to learn how to paint. In fact, the pharmacy schools should be teaching painting 101. :) :):)

  10. Pharmacy Gal  •  Feb 11, 2013 @11:55 am

    Jim, your post brings to mind.. “We Mutually Pledge To Each Other Our Lives, Our Fortunes And Our Sacred Honor.” Could the pharmacy profession at a crossroads of a revolution?

  11. Goose  •  Feb 12, 2013 @11:24 am

    I must admit I have not joined TPA. I will do so this week and try to become an active member. I suck on a computer, but I live in a town full of computer nerds, so I’ll see what I can do.
    I am one of the talkers and not doers you are referring to.
    Not anymore.

  12. bcmigal  •  Feb 12, 2013 @3:00 pm

    So my name came up on the email of shame this week. I will be given an “assignment”. Not sure if it will be composing an essay, making a poster, or just writing “I will not bring down the KPM” 100 times.

  13. Whistleblower  •  Feb 13, 2013 @12:16 pm

    @bcmigal…. Make sure you have receipt on that poster board!!!

  14. Pharmaciststeve  •  Feb 13, 2013 @4:32 pm

    @Bcmigal… I haven’t had to do any of that since I got out of parochial grade school…

  15. bcmigal  •  Feb 14, 2013 @2:32 am

    i was going to buy the poster board and sharpies at Target.

  16. Dana Powell  •  Mar 22, 2013 @10:46 am

    all of this is so true- and what’s equally frustrating
    for new graduates is that they don’t know that they
    are being undercut on salary and overworked- and
    they have to suck it up and deal with it because they are
    now 150,000 in student loan debt! Most new grads are
    in a student “mortgage” repayment that’s greater than there house note!
    Can we add a facebook “like” tab to TPA’s website?

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