Why Do We Need Pharmacists?

Comments at Steve Sailer:

* I used to take only an occasional aspirin but now take close to twenty pills a day. So I’m familiar with pharmacists. But I don’t understand their purpose. If you were to ask me how to lower medical costs I would have said – eliminate all the pharmacists.

I used to be in software development. Creating a system whereby patients never had to deal with a pharmacists seems pretty easy – easier for example that automating the burger flippers behind the fast food drive thru window.

When I go into Kaiser to get a new prescription they always try to get me to talk with a pharmacist. I always decline. They have the comprehensive pre-printed explanations of dosage, side effects and allergies for every possible drug. I simply read the provided printed material.

Sometimes you hear people say to get your medical advice from a doctor or a pharmacist. This strikes me as an anachronism. If you can’t talk to an MD you should try a Nurse Practitioner. The guy who packs the pills into the little bottles should be lower on your list – a last resort.

I imagine that sometime in the near future pharmacists will no longer exist in urban areas. Now my doctor logs on to the office computer and orders a new prescription. I go downstairs to the pharmacy and wait while it is packaged. Obviously this procedure is easy to automate. The labels are printed by the system. All that is needed is for some machinery to drop the pills from a hopper into an individual bottle and have the label attached. Why have a pharmacist at all?

* You could reverse the question and ask why, in many cases, you needed an MD at all?

European countries I guess let pharmacists do basic hands off diagnosis and give you antibiotics, etc. Just walk into a drug store basically. A pharmacist actually has all the training they need for that, but American MDs have been pretty jealous of their ability to prescribe.

* Nurse practitioner? A nurse practitioner is a nurse who went and got an online degree, with everything that those two facts entail about her IQ and medical knowledge respectively. If you know for a fact you have strep throat and just need someone to write you a prescription for penicillin seeing a nurse practitioner might be a good idea, so long as you remind her to give you the prescription once she goes through the motions of “examining” you and pretending to be engaged in the practice of medicine.

But if you actually need medical advice even a pharmacist is far more qualified to give it to you than a glorified nurse. While pharmacists may indeed serve a role that is becoming increasingly superfluous, they at least went through a somewhat selective weeding process to gain admittance to pharmacy school and have 4 years of rigorous pharmacology and pathophysiology education behind them. Nurse practitioners have none of those things but more than make up for it with raging inferiority complexes.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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