Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Do You Know Why I Have Now Inherited The Title Of Best Pharmacy Columnist In The World Now That Jim Plagakis Is Gone? Because Neither One Of Us Ever Wrote A Paragraph Like This.

Look at it:

Clinical community pharmacist (CCP) has begun to appear recently in various venues. It was in the title of a continuing education (CE) session presented at the recent National Community Pharmacists Association convention. The CE session was presented by a panel of innovative community pharmacy practitioners who have been leaders in new direct patient care services.

I just want to point out a few things here:

1) That is the entire opening paragraph, complete and unchanged, of a column in the current issue of Pharmacy Times about, well...who the hell knows? Some character called Clinical Community Pharmacist evidently. Maybe some sort of superhero that can appear in multiple venues at once? If I want to learn about him I guess I'll have to take one of those CE lessons, because there sure isn't much who,what, when, where, or why in this sorry example of news reporting.

2) This was written by a college graduate. He claims to have a masters degree.

3) This illiterate still has a regular gig writing for a national pharmacy trade magazine and Jim Plagakis does not. Chew on that awhile.

4) This also presumably got past an editor at some point. If I ever sent her a turd like this my editor would probably fly out to California and make me eat a dictionary.

I have to go put some water in my eyeballs now, because that piece of work made them hurt and I'm afraid they are about to catch fire.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

JP At Large Cut Loose. My Reflections On The First Great Pharmacy Writer.

There was a time when I hated Drug Topics, the pharmacy trade magazine pretty much everyone in the profession is familiar with. I mean seriously hated it. Every time it was delivered to my store it invariably ended up being leaved through, cussed at, and hurled towards the garbage. What burned my ass about the mag most during of the era of George Bush The Lesser was the incredible platform they had earned over the years, a magazine delivered to and read by almost every pharmacy employee in the country,  and how they were in the process of just blowing it. The magazine got smaller every year. It was printed less frequently. The writing....was bad. Really bad. Here's an actual example pulled from my little blog garden's archives. Keep in mind this was the lead paragraph of a news story:

Can metered-dose inhalers containing flunisolide, triamcinolone, metaproterenol, pirbuterol, albuterol and ipratropium in combination, cromolyn, and nedocromil be phased out because they harbor ozone-depleting substances? If there are alternate products that provide the same benefits as these drugs, they are nonessential and can be removed from the market by, say, Dec. 31, 2009, after a transition period. So proposed the FDA in the June 11 Federal Register. The agency said it would hold a public meeting to discuss this matter. For now, please send your comments to the FDA by Aug. 10.

Reading that hurts my eyes to this very day.

It wasn't only witnessing the self-destruction of what was once the main communication channel for pharmacy that stuck in my craw. It was knowing that I could improve it. If I could only get a shot at writing for those guys, I knew.... KNEW... I could be a part of its renaissance. But I also knew the chances of breaking into the world of actual paid print writing were long and hard. I had even sent Drug Topics a Viewpoint piece once and had heard nothing in reply. So I continued to seethe. Another dip into the archives:

Apparently Pharmacy Has A Code Of Ethics. Who Knew? 
Not me. But there it was in black and white in the latest issue of the trade magazine Drug Topics. The code of ethics by the way, was by far the most interesting thing in that rag, Jim Plagakis being the exception that proves the rule. Why Jim continues to do the clowns that think we'd be interested to read about drugstores in the suburbs on Atlanta putting in generators and publishes statements like "Tylenol was one of the top acetaminophen products suggested" the favor of writing for them baffles me.

Name another acetaminophen product.

Quick. C'mon. No Googling.

See my point? Drug Topics hurts my eyes, and if it weren't for Jim Plagakis and the curiosity aroused by seeing an alleged code of ethics that governs my profession, I might have had to try to gouge them out this Christmas Eve to stop the pain.

Jim had been writing a column for the magazine since I was a zit-faced frat boy who didn't know which end of a spatula to count with. He was the last echo of what they used to be. Kind of like Christiane Amanpour at CNN. And unbeknownst to me he had noticed this angry little monkey man and his blog. Drug Topics was looking for someone to write an op-ed for them, and Jim brought me to their attention. When they balked at the, how do we put it, periodic immaturity of what I was posting to the web, Jim assured them that I could write like a grownup when the situation called for it.

So one day I got an email from Jim Plagakis asking if I was interested in writing an article for the magazine. For those of you not in the profession I'll tell you this was the equivalent of Paul McCartney taking an interest in your garage band and asking if you'd be interested in signing to his record label. And so it began:

The idea came to me while I was waiting for my weekly Andy Rooney fix. I had long ago decided that I can't just tune into the last segment of 60 Minutes to catch the ruminations of the cranky old grandfather I never had. That would be cheating, like reading Drug Topics solely for "JP at Large."

That was the first paragraph of the first article I ever wrote for Drug Topics. I was so proud of myself for getting in that JP reference.

The rest my friends, is pharmacy wordsmithing history. I have proven both myself and Jim right. I got my shot, and I HAVE had a part in moving that magazine towards where it should be. Drug Topics is a  better read today than back when it was breaking the news that Tylenol is a popular brand of acetaminophen. And you know what? My awesome columns are part of the reason why.

This isn't a happy post though, because there is a sad ending to this for Jim. He has been let go from Drug Topics, and in a way that has left him hurt and feeling insulted. That breaks my heart, as he doesn't deserve to be made to feel that way. He carried that publication through the time it was...there is no other word, awful. And to not be given the chance to say goodbye to his many fans reminds me of how they cut off Frank Sinatra's speech when he was accepting a lifetime achievement Grammy.

Paul McCartney, Christiane Amanpour, Frank Sinatra. Have I made the way I feel about Jim clear?

It won't be the same next month when I'm struggling to find something to say before deadline the way I always do, and I can't imagine it ever will be. There'll be a tinge of sadness with every article zapped to the magazine from now on. A little emptiness you can't fill with words.

I wish it had ended better than this.

Sometimes, My Friends, The Jokes Just Write Themselves. That Won't Stop Me From Taking A Crack At It Though.

During the tour of CVS corporate headquarters, it was indeed obvious Foulkes takes her butts seriously.

"No one, and I mean no one, has assembled a bigger collection of assholes than we have right here in this building"  She gushed. "And not just in the drugstore industry. I'll go on the record right now in saying that I don't think there's a company in the history of commerce that has had more butt openings than you see in front of you right now"




UPDATE 1- So here's a real quote from the butt-stopping issue. (God why am I actually reading this magazine?)

After 22 years at CVS, and a multitude of different experiences throughout the organization, Foulkes has “gotten comfortable living in ambiguity,” she told DSN. “I’ve been thrust into situations where I just don’t know, and I have gotten comfortable not knowing."

I think what we just learned here is that the CVS President in charge of stores freely admits to, as many of her employees might put it, having her head up her ass.

Wow, I need to be breaking stories like this, These executives never seem to want to talk to me for some reason though.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Of Ham Sandwiches And Burning Walgreens

If there's nothing else I want you to know about what's going on in Ferguson this night, only one point I could get across to you before you drift over to the Fox News Fear and Loathing Manufacturing Company, it would be this:

That was no Grand Jury Darren Wilson faced. Not in any sense that the American legal system defines one. Not in any way you or I would ever face one if we were ever charged with a crime.

For one thing, you or I would never "face one." That's not how any Grand Jury except this one works.

Let me bring you up to speed with what a Grand Jury is, and let's see how long it is before you smell the bullshit in the case of Darren Wilson. By all means double check anything I am about to say while you're here on the information superhighway.

Grand Juries have their roots back in the days of jolly olde England, when they were instituted as a check on the power of the Crown. Anyone arrested had to be charged with a crime and the prosecuting attorney had to go before a group of citizens and explain that there was some evidence that the person might have actually committed a crime. This was to keep the King from being able to lock up whoever he wanted for however long he wanted for no reason.

Except...Darren Wilson was never arrested, was he? There's your first clue something smells a little rotten here. No need to check the power of the government to keep someone locked up if no charges have been brought.

Hang with me here, and I'll tell you how Grand Jurys work in the world of the unconnected and unimportant. It's something like this:

Prosecutor: Ladies and Gentlemen, now we have the case of Drugmonkey, charged with narcotics possession. When arrested, he was found to have a hundred OxyContin in his pocket. I'm sure you'll agree that's enough evidence to proceed with the charges.

Grand Jurors: Yup.

Prosecutor: NEXT!!!!

That's it. As soon as the prosecutor can give the slightest reason why Drugmonkey was arrested, we move on. This is NOT the place where Drugmonkey says "I own a drugstore you dipshit, and I was delivering a prescription to one of my customers. Here's all the paperwork, which I'm sure you will find in order"

That part happens at the TRIAL. Where the prosecutor lets loose with all the evidence he's got, and Drugmonkey and his lawyer get to tear it to shreds, perhaps by putting Drugmonkey on the stand. Drugmonkey DOES NOT GET TO TELL HIS SIDE OF THE STORY AT THE GRAND JURY HEARING.

There's a saying in the legal profession that a prosecutor can get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich. Because all he's doing is giving a reason why the person was arrested and should be charged. The way it works in the real world, it's nothing but a formality. In all of 2010, out of 162,000 federal court cases, a Grand Jury refused to indict someone 11 times. You read that right. A whopping 0.007% of the time, a Grand Jury thought there wasn't enough evidence for the government to have its day in court.

Are you smelling the bullshit yet? Because Darren Wilson DID get to tell his side of the story, didn't he? Instead of a prosecutor saying, "ladies and gentlemen the accused shot the victim 12 times, and there are conflicting eyewitness accounts as to what happened, I'm sure you'll agree we should sort this out in court." What we got was a mini-version of a real trial, where only one side got to tell its story, uninterrupted, with not a Grand Jury, but a group of people acting as a regular criminal jury making a decision.

A mini-trial that could only end one way. because if the jury doesn't go along, then Darren Wilson gets another shot at full blown trial.

They say a prosecutor can get a Grand Jury to indict that ham sandwich because what they mean is a Grand Jury will do whatever a prosecutor wants it to do. Which is exactly what happened here. This wasn't a Grand Jury hearing in any sense that it is known to the law. This was nothing but an elaborate cover-my-ass legal ruse by the prosecutor who had no intention of ever bringing a case against Darren Wilson.

And that's why you have a lot of angry people running around the streets of Ferguson, Missouri this night, doing things like burning down the local Walgreens to give white people an education. Because if it weren't for the riots in Los Angeles back in 1992 most of you honkies would still be ignorant of the way cops can act when they think no one is watching them. A riot seems to be the only way people who have been shit on for hundreds of years, fighting inch by blood soaked inch towards the promises this country makes its citizens, have of educating you snoozing in complacency what it's like in the parts of the system you never see.

Yesterday's riot lesson was the reality of police brutality, tonight's is the function of a Grand Jury in a society that clams to have equal protection under the law.

Let's hope you learned something.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

Dear Person At Rite Aid Corporate Headquarters Whose Job It Is To Scour The Internet Looking For What People Are Saying About Your Company.

Guess what? My numbers are in, and my Rx count is up 15% from October of last year.

You haven't put out your numbers yet, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say you'll be patting yourself on the back pretty hard over a figure that's a lot lower.

So whatever you say about your results, that goes like double for me, huh?

And to think you once had this wizard of business, who I'll repeat, now regularly outperforms the vast majority of your managers, right in your ranks. Every bit of potential that is now flowering used to belong entirely to you.

I just wanted to make sure I put that somewhere where I knew you'd see it. You can go back to your part in ruining the profession now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

It's A War Of The Corporate Cocksuckers At Walgreens. Pull Up A Chair And Root For Lots Of Injuries.

Holy crap all hell is breaking loose at the Pharmacy America Trusts For Some Reason. Chaos in the corporate suites, anarchy in the executive ranks, a food fight in the corridors of power.

This afternoon though, I sat on hold with my local Walgreens for about 45 minutes with no human contact, which means it's pretty much business as usual at store level.

Alert readers of this blog may remember my poking fun at two Walgreens executives who were given the boot, along with a generous severance package, after apparently making a billion dollar profit projection error.

However it now seems that one of those executives, former Chief Financial Officer Wade Miquelon, takes exception to the term "error," when applied to him.

The lawsuit, filed on Oct. 16, was in response to allegedly false and defamatory statements about Miquelon, including that he was responsible for a $1.1 billion forecasting error. Miquelon says Walgreen CEO Gregory Wasson and Alliance Boots chairman Stefano Pessina made the statements during meetings with investors between Aug. 5 and Aug. 8. The Wall Street Journal... reported that Walgreen directors told the investors that they had no idea the forecasting change was coming.



   Walgreens CEO Gregory Wasson, addressing the media from a fort he made of apples. "Ain't no doctor gonna come within a mile of me."



Miquelon's probably gonna have to come up with some evidence that this billion dollar forecasting screwup wasn't all on him though. I don't envy him in that task. After all, he's going up against a very sophisticated titan of the business world, skilled in the ways of corporate culture and surely not likely to leave much help lying around for a lawyer trying to find proof that his client wasn't the only one involved.

 There are numerous other claims in the decidedly juicy lawsuit, such as that Wasson pressured Miquelon to forecast what the CFO thought was an entirely unreachable $6 earnings-per-share figure for fiscal year 2016. According to the court filing, on June 11 Wasson sent a text message to Miquelon that stated, “Let’s push for a 6 somehow.” Miquelon says he responded, “I don’t think there is any way we could ensure that,” to which he says Wasson replied, “No choice. Need a 6. We’ll find a way.”

D'OH! The dreaded Text message ploy! Whoever would have known such a thing would persist and have the ability to be recalled after it has been sent! Well played Mr. Miquelon, well played indeed. 



"I am sad. I wish I had more money. Also, that I had heard of Snapchat before right now."


One thing's for sure though, no matter where the facts take us, we can look forward to a thorough, fair hearing conducted on both sides by men of character and honor. 

 Miquelon’s lawsuit alleges that in a conference call on June 24, one activist hedge-fund investor told him that if he did not start “doing his job,” two other activist investors would “stop at nothing to get you out of the way, including getting personal dirt on you and embarrassing you publicly.


Wait. Forgot who I was talking about there for a second. Never mind. 

So, let's recap. Walgreens is off by a billion dollars or so on a recent profit projection, and promptly blames the Chief Financial Officer, who then leaves the company with a $4.7 million dollar check. Chief Financial Officer then says, "Oh no you don't! you were putting pressure on me to make that projection after I didn't want to, and now I'm going to sue you for a lot of money!" Which evidently $4.7 million doesn't qualify as. "See you in court bitch!"

And I didn't even get to the part where Miquelon claims he was promised the CEO job if he would just play ball. We could just be getting warmed up here my friends.

Reached for comment, a CVS spokesman issued a statement that read in part: BBBBBBWWWWWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHAAAAAAHHHHHAAAAAAHHHAAAA!!!!!!!!! THIS IS AWESOME!! Meanwhile, in Lima, Ohio, Walgreen's customer Larry Heisen said meekly, "I just wish they'd pick up the phone." 

Monday, October 20, 2014

I Stand This Night In Awe Of The Evil Brilliance of CVS. Or, Maybe Republicans Aren't Always Wrong About Everything.

"Drugmonkey there's some sort of typo in your headline" you're saying. "You've never once had anything good to say about CVS,  I know you make more than your share of slips on the keyboard, but this time is the whopper of them all. "

Except it wasn't a typo. Yes, I once made a joke about the company getting into a new scandal every month that turned out not to be a joke because they seriously do seem to get busted for something with every turn of the calendar page.

And yes, the second most visited page in the history of my little blog garden is that in which I gave space to a CVS employee who opens up on the company with both barrels. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I've never....seen anything....like the hatred CVS employees seem to have for their corporate master.

But I meant it when I just said I am in awe of them this night. They may have just made the move from evil to evil genius.

Let's back up a bit and remember the last time the company made national headlines, getting even the President of The United States to notice they were no longer going to sell tobacco in their stores. Speculation ran rampant as to the motivations of such a move, which was estimated to cost them $2 billion in annual sales. "Well, tobacco is a no growth category" the conventional wisdom went, "they evidently feel the good publicity will be worth whatever loss in revenue will occur, and it probably will help their Minute Care clinics pick up a contract or two. "

Oh how you underestimated these guys mainstream business pundits. It's more than just a contract or two at stake here.

For those of you playing along at home who don't follow the prescription processing industry, I'll mention here that CVS also owns Caremark, the second largest prescription benefit manager  in the country.

Now hold onto your seats, because here it comes, via The Wall Street Journal's Pharmalot blog: 

Caremark... will soon require some customers to make an extra co-payment, in some cases up to $15, on any prescription that is filled at a pharmacy selling cigarettes and other tobacco products

...and in one fell swoop my friends, CVS can potentially cripple it's two main rivals though the 1 in 4 Americans whose prescriptions are managed by Caremark. Absolutely fucking brilliant. "We'll be agnostic [about] where the consumer fills their prescription," said CVS CEO Tom Ryan when the merger with Caremark was under regulatory review. " Well, it looks like they just found religion.

And I'm just....not sure how I feel about this. Other than being awed by the evil brilliance of the plan. I mean, there's no way you can say this isn't using the power of oligopoly to deliver Walgreens and Rite Aid a kick to the nuts, but ...if I were in a position to do it, I'd be more than happy to crush either one of those company's testicles. And you know, tobacco in pharmacies IS stupid. It was a burr up my ass every day I worked for Rite Aid and had to stare at the cigarettes on the other side of the store while selling people asthma meds. I even once wrote my State Representative and Senator, who was on the health committee at the time, making a case for the California pharmacy board to deny a license to any location that sold tobacco. Never heard back from the Representative. Got a letter full of nothing from the Senator.

Yet here we have a brutal bastard vs bastard vs bastard free market business free for all accomplishing what impotent government officials gave nothing but lip service to. The other "Big Two" are gonna either give up tobacco or lose a shitload of prescriptions.

Which... is exactly what should happen. I guess the free market wins this round, said the pinko pharmacist who never did sell tobacco in his store.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Return Of Rick Scott, Who May Finally Get The Karmic Payback He Deserves, For The Most Incredible Of Reasons.

The political junkies among you may already know which direction the wind is about to take this post, but stick around, I want to make sure you get the whole recap here, not that it will matter.

I've warned you, and those of you in Florida in particular, about Rick Scott more than once. Rick Scott is a crook. A thief whose company, a chain of for-profit hospitals by the name of Columbia/HCA, ripped off Medicare and Medicaid to the tune of over a billion dollars, and then had the chutzpah to enter the debate over President Obama's health care plan with privately financed commercials emphasizing that any solution had to be built on "accountability and personal responsibility"

I'm not making that up. By all means do a Google search and double check me.

I asked you to remember this the next time you start to judge the Medicaid momma who comes in your store looking for some free Tylenol for her feverish kid. To maybe keep some perspective when comparing her actions to the rich white crook. Instead, you made Rick Scott the governor of Florida, which I understand some may consider a fate worse than death. In Rick Scott's world though, it is considered a validation of his lifestyle.

He went on to refuse to take any of the free money the federal government was offering states to expand their Medicaid programs. Perhaps because he was no longer in a position to steal any of it.

But Rick Scott may be about to get his comeuppance. Not because of his unethical business practices mind you, nor for his rank hypocrisy. Rick Scott my friends, has finally done something far worse in this day and age.

He looked stupid on television.




According to saintpetersblog.com, Scott's hissy fit "cost him two or three critical points" in the opinion polls, flipping his slight lead into a slight deficit.

Christ on a cracker.

So here's our lesson for the day. I want you to imagine what would have happened if Rick Scott had a political instinct that was even slightly honed. If he had just acted like a grown up and ignored the fan, or even if he brushed off some charm skills and make a little joke about it. Holy cow depending on the quality of the quip he could have crushed his opponent right then and there. After stealing a billion dollars. And shouting for all that would hear, after stealing a billion dollars, about the need for "accountability" I want you to think about that for awhile and what it says about the viability of our democracy.

Because the answer my friend, with apologies to Bob Dylan, is quite literally, blowin' in the wind.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Back When It Wasn't So Busy, Ebola Made A Guest Appearance In This Very Blog.

Original blogpost airdate January 31,2008

President Wankerhead Will Release A Budget Proposal For The Federal Government Monday, Prompting Joy For Reasons Other Than He'll Never Do It Again.


From this morning's New York Times:

In his new budget to be unveiled Monday, President Bush will call for large cuts in the growth of Medicare, far exceeding what he proposed last year, and he will again seek major savings in Medicaid, according to administration officials and budget documents.

Reached for comment in the lung of an elderly woman at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Mycobacterium tuberculosis said "While on the surface the cut in health care funding for America's elderly and poor would seem to be a good thing, we have to remember that the conditions setting the stage for my comeback are not all financial. It is my sincere hope that the money my prey spends for health care will not only not cover the cost of inflation, but that Americans will never realize that they could actually spend less and be more effective in their genocidal campaign against my species by simply copying the health care system of Canada."

"Overall, I'd say the president's budget makes me cautiously optimistic" concluded the bacterium.

At its headquarters in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Ebola virus issued an emotional, short statement:

"HUMANS DIE!!!!! said the virus through an interpreter. "ME FIND YOU! YOU MAKE JOB EASIER!!!!!"

Sources said Ebola was especially excited about the president's proposal to to reduce special Medicare payments to teaching hospitals by $23 billion dollars*

"THEY KNOW NOTHING OF ME NOW" said Ebola. "THEY NO WANT TO LEARN? ME KILL THEM!!!!!!"

Meanwhile, a spokesman for bird flu promised that if Bush's funding proposals were accepted by Congress, it would limit its effects only to those without good health insurance once it developed a way to cross the species barrier.

"We have our best viruses working on how to infect humans more effectively" said the spokesman. "But we are willing to spare the rich among you if you only give us a chance to taste sweet, sweet, human blood"

"You can trust the word of a bird flu virus" he concluded. What's in your wallet?

*You know the quotes are made up. The special cut in funding for teaching hospitals, however, is real.