NCPA Executive Update

NCPA Executive Update delivers insights on legislative, regulatory, policy, and industry developments from NCPA CEO B. Douglas Hoey, Pharmacist, MBA, to NCPA members and pharmacy leaders every other Friday.

NCPA: A source of truth (Go look it up...) | NCPA Executive Update | December 21, 2018

by NCPA | Dec 20, 2018

Dear Colleague,

Doug Hoey

When I was a kid and asked my parents or teachers what a word meant, their response was always "Go look it up." They meant in the dictionary, of course. Fast forward 30 years: Dictionaries were supposed to go the way of the rotary phone, but it turns out their importance has actually grown. They even made news this week.

Last year the New York Times did a story on the comeback of the dictionary. Jesse Sheidlower, a lexicographer and past president of the American Dialect Society, said, "Dictionaries are not regarded as sexy or interesting, but what dictionaries are known for is telling the truth. Right now, there are a lot of questions about what is true."

This week Merriam-Webster announced that "justice" was its word of the year. The Oxford English Dictionary chose the word "toxic" for its word of 2018, and dictionary.com said its word of the year is "misinformation." In other words, in 2018 Americans were seeking truth about justice while trying to filter toxic misinformation!

If I relate this to pharmacy, I'd say pharmacists are a source of truth in several ways. They are a source of truth about the use of drugs. At the dawn of the internet, there were concerns that pharmacists (and other health care providers) would not be needed because information had become much more readily available. As it has turned out, the spigot of information has turned into a deluge. There's an overwhelming amount of it (and opinions, too) that patients and caregivers have to sift through. Pharmacists are a source of truth about prescription drugs – their proper use and effects – that consumers and other health care providers need.

Pharmacists also know a lot about things that are toxic. In fact, many pharmacists take a toxicology course as part of our training. One reason Oxford chose toxic as its word of the year was because of the 45 percent increase in the number of times it was looked up – I'm assuming often for reasons unrelated to toxic medications. (Here in DC, I suspect that political goings-on made a hefty contribution to that 45 percent increase. )

Most community pharmacists have a strong sense of justice – doing what is right, treating people fairly, and expecting the same in return. That's one reason they consistently rate so highly in the Gallup Poll of the most respected professions.

It's also easy to see why misinformation was named the top word by dictionary.com. There was no shortage of it – whether you dislike the term "fake news" or don't believe in fake news because it might be fake! NCPA spends a lot of its time correcting misinformation about how prescription drugs get paid for. In the NYT story, Sheidlower, the lexicographer, was quoted as saying: "In times of stress, people will go to things that will provide answers. The Bible, the dictionary, or alcohol." (I wonder if he got the order right?)

Add NCPA as the primary source of truth and answers for community pharmacists. NCPA was invited to testify before Congress multiple times this year. We had numerous meetings with CMS and the administration, and the media turned to our expertise. As a result, our influence is reflected in the opioid and gag clause prohibitions passed by Congress this year, and more importantly, by the DIR provisions in CMS' drug pricing proposed rule. We've come to be seen as a source of truth to clarify toxic misinformation.

The words of the year paint quite a picture of 2018. A better picture – of community pharmacy – was released last week by filmmaker Sydney Gawlik in her short documentary film, "Who Cares for America Today," presented by Digital Pharmacist. It's a heartwarming film, and I encourage you to take a look. You'll enjoy it. Truly.

Best,
Doug Hoey

P.S. Happy Holidays! Executive Update will next appear Jan. 4, 2019.