PHARMACY, TRUCKING & the OCP

Although not so obvious at the outset, there are a lot of similarities between the trucking industry and pharmacy.  The trucking industry (or the transportation industry) is all about moving stuff from one place to another, and big players in this industry focus on tonnage and distance; they mostly worry about their trucks.

The more trucks the better and keeping these big machines in top notch shape is paramount; regular servicing is the standard.

When it comes to the drivers’ concerns, the same level of care and investment falls far short.  Long shifts and great distances are standard fare for drivers, who are notoriously out of shape due to lack of exercise, fatigue and consumption of junk food.

Is this beginning to make some sense when comparison is made to pharmacy & pharmacists?  Replace pharmacy for truck and pharmacist for driver.

It was not that long ago that pharmacy regulatory bodies were obsessed with details about the actual ‘pharmacy’.  The number of square feet of counter space, beakers, scales, square footage etc. were critical issues.  These aspects have seen less emphasis lately as the notion of the pharmacist as a knowledge worker is promoted, and compounding becomes a specialty activity restricted to a small minority of pharmacies.   But still, regulatory bodies like the Ontario College of Pharmacists (OCP) see fit to charge pharmacy owners annual pharmacy accreditation fees in excess of $1,000 per year.

What are these fees for?  Maybe just a convenient revenue generator?  And still this is not enough.  This year the OCP has dictated that annual member fees will be going up 20% over the next couple of years in order to finance the increasing number of complaints and disciplinary issues the OCP has to deal with.  What a sad comment on the profession of pharmacy.  What has caused this degradation in the moral fabric of the profession, and this spiked increase in assorted misdemeanors involving (ever more frequently) members of OCP council and its very leadership?

This website has been inundated over the years, but much more so lately, with lamentations from pharmacists mostly working for Big Pharmacy Retail (BPR) re compensation decreases as much as 40% from five years ago ($32/hr is fairly common in Toronto today) and abysmal working conditions.  In the name of saving labour costs, it is common to witness pharmacists working alone (no technicians or assistants), trying to serve a dozen patients at a time, perform flu injections, and bag groceries all at the same time.  No bathroom breaks, no meal breaks.  And for this you need a PharmD?

To add insult to injury, while under these terrible conditions, retail pharmacists will now be subject to measurements for productivity and proficiency by both the insurance sector (who is looking to save money for their clients/employers), their direct employers (like SDM), and by the OCP whose stated sole interest is the safety and health of the public.

Back to the trucking analogy.  How can the regulatory system be so concerned about ‘pharmacies’, which are 90% owned by non-pharmacists, and be totally  unconcerned about the health and well being of pharmacists who have to deliver the goods?

When confronted with this issue, the OCP is resolute that its responsibility is solely the welfare of the public, and that business models and the inherent structures of such models are not its concern or responsibility.  In fact, new incoming council members are specifically directed that their personal opinions are not relevant when it comes to fulfilling the mandate of the College, and strict adherence to the edicts as set out in the college’s policies is to be the guiding principle at all times.  Just read & follow the rule book, innovation is neither requested nor welcomed.  In British Columbia the voting turnout for the last council election was something like 8%.  Wonder what the percentage was in Ontario.

The problem here is the narrow interpretation of what is in the public’s interest.  If the health & well being of the pharmacist fulfilling the professional act is of no importance, then how can the pharmacist be judged on his/her professional competency?  How can we have road safety if we have great trucks being driven by overtired amphetamine stoked drivers?

Such factors as the number of prescriptions filled per hour, level of technician support, flu shot injections, and the capability to perform so called therapeutic appropriateness, must all be of concern to the OCP if it is truly concerned about the public’s interest.

To state sole interest in the public, while having no interest in the pharmacist’s capability to do the work, makes no sense, and reflects an institution which is locked in its past.

It is really time to reconsider the efficacy of self-regulation in both pharmacy and medicine; it’s just not working.

 

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “PHARMACY, TRUCKING & the OCP

  1. What would be the proposed alternative to self-regulation?

    I recently saw a full-page ad in a SDM flyer that they waive ODB $ 2 co-pays and discount regular ODB fees.

    Certainly they can make this business decision, and aren’t particularly concerned that this sort of decision may degrade the profession. And OCP will not weigh in on this sort of thing.

    It is these little things that add up, and create working environments that no longer support effective professional practice.

    Even with multi-regulation, or the government stepping in, would this change?

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  2. In the USA self regulation was abandoned a long time ago for the same reasons we see here in Canada; it failed.
    In the US, pharmacies and pharmacists are regulated by state authorities. Ultimately falling under the Drug Enforcement Agency.
    I don’t usually advocate for increased government involvement, but in this case I do. Over & over we see pharmacy & medicine fail in their duty to the point of embarrassment.

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  3. Not renewing my OCP registration and OPA membership this year. Good bye pharmacy, I had too much damage done to my health already! What makes me angry the most – is STUPID pharmicists allow these conditions to continue! Charles Dickens would be proud of you all for carrying on a wonderful tradition!

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  4. Hi Bill.

    In your 10th paragraph at the end, you wonder what the percentage of turnout voters is for OCP elections as compared to BC (8%).

    If you go to the recent consultation regarding a 25% increase in OCP fees (not 20%):

    http://www.ocpinfo.com/about/consultations/consultation/proposed-fee-increases-and-bylaw-amendments/

    and then click on the 3rd link under “References” at the bottom (Council materials), the first page of that reference has a hotlink under Item #9 to the results of the recent OCP election. Note that the voter turnout varied between 18 & 20% for the two electoral districts that were at play this year.

    Not the best there, either.

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  5. In my 50 years of licensing, I have never voted once. I never understood what exactly I would be voting for as there didn’t appear to be any difference, one candidate from another. No platform. No change.

    Whenever I saw the picture of all the players on the front of the OCP magazine, It seems there always was the same tired old faces. Some people seem to like this kind of bureaucracy. Makes them feel important in an otherwise lackluster life I would guess.

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  6. It is with a dichotomy of emotions when I read your blog, on one hand I enjoy views on my profession and on the other hand lament its current being . Ocp is an incredible disappointment , I wonder why.
    This is my last year, I will not be renewing my licence in March . No regrets , just disappointment .
    Btw- I saw an ad on indeed.ca for a part time parking enforcement officer . The rate of pay was listed as up to 38 / hr., a non- union position. No disrespect meant , just an observation. If I remember the last wage I approved as a Sdm associate for a pharmacist was 58/ hr.( about 10 yrs ago). Now you say it could be as low as 32.
    I had to go to a walk- in clinic the other day. It was in a Walmart . I had a very interesting conversation with the MD. We spoke about the current world of medicine and pharmacy . I was a bit surprised when he told me he was disgusted with pharmacy corporate as they dictated to the pharmacists a quota on med checks. I hoped his disgust stopped at head office and not to the front line pharmacists .
    The point I was planning to make was that in this store not only was the pharmacy stuck in a dingy corner so was the walk in clinic.not sure if that means anything, just an observation.
    Now this is where my disappointment blossoms . When I get a request from UofT pharmacy for funds for pharmacy , I cringe.
    When I see a picture of all these smart young kids in their white coat ceremony I want to shake their shoulders and say it’s not too late , go into law( just an example not a suggestion). No – a suggestion.
    Before I get too boring I will sign off, but I may comment on your next blog as a X- pharmacist

    Cheers !!!!’

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    • Unfortunately David, I share your bleak outlook. What a sad outcome for a once proud profession. What a moral travesty for the vested interests like academia, the regulatory bodies, and association who continue to feed off this dying animal.

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