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Naples News: Floridians rely on personalized pharmacy care

Friday, June 17, 2011

By John Atkinson, Naples, Owner, Head Pharmacist, The Apothecary

The Apothecary, an independent pharmacy at Fourth Avenue North in Naples, has been serving our community for over 47 years. As the current owner and son of the founder who started that pharmacy, I can honestly say that it has been a pleasure to serve and grow with our community over so many years.

Most people will tell you that customer service from any business is important, but there are few things in the world that are more important than the quality of service that you receive from your health-care and pharmacy providers. Patients have long relied on independent pharmacies like mine to provide the most personalized and trusted service available for their most essential of health needs.

Some patients who have their prescriptions filled at our pharmacy have done so for nearly a decade thanks to the trust our pharmacists have developed with patients and the quality of service we provide.

Our job as community pharmacists goes far beyond dispensing medications and sending people on their way. We understand our patient’s health history and the combinations of medications they take. We provide guidance for how medications should and should not be taken.

When it comes to medications we provide, we are educators and counselors, not just dispensers. With the health of our patients at the forefront of our thoughts, we are guardians against potentially harmful mixtures of drugs. Many patients see us more often than they see their own physician.

The potentially lifesaving relationship that pharmacists often share with patients is one of the reasons our profession is ranked among the most trusted by consumers. Florida law, combined with actions soon to be taken by our state’s health-care agency, may soon dictate that state employees and Medicaid patients fill their prescriptions through mail-order catalogs.

Such an approach would end the revered patient/pharmacist relationship for many, all without any true cost savings for the state. Patients who have relied on trusted, community-oriented pharmacies similar to my own would be forced to endure the hassle and potential health risks of ordering their prescriptions through faceless, often out-of-state mail order companies.

This is not necessary and is not the best option for the residents of Naples or any other Floridian.

For the sake of patients, small businesses and pharmacists across the state, I urge our lawmakers and regulators to do away with mandatory prescription mail-order requirements that would hurt the quality of care for patients while providing no real cost savings for taxpayers.

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