The fact that the online grassroots campaign by independent pharmacy operators has enlisted more than 12,000 patients in just six weeks since its launch is important because it clearly demonstrates that people believe in the value of pharmacy. It is a powerful statement as government and payers wrestle with health reform, and the future role of pharmacy hangs in the balance.
This effort by pharmacy leaders to enlist patients in their ongoing drive for recognition and respect is a key part of the effort to influence policy.
It's an especially powerful argument in small towns and rural areas where the loss of a family-owned pharmacy could create a big void in a community's health care delivery system, making patients have to drive miles to see a pharmacist.
Pharmacists and loyal patients are natural allies, particularly when the patient is older or in need of multiple medications and counseling for one or more chronic conditions. In those cases, pharmacists serve as frontline health care professionals, counselors and patient monitors. It's not a great leap for them to engage those patients to join their grassroots lobbying campaign and help the profession convince Congress and policymakers that community pharmacy is a vital resource that deserves a fair reimbursement and a full seat at the health care table.