Pharmacists are Helping

November 23, 2009

As appeared in USA Today
By Joseph H. Harmison, PD
National Community Pharmacists Association 

To the Editor:
Since the onset of H1N1 flu and the shortage of Tamiflu to treat it, community pharmacists have worked overtime to stretch the supply by making multiple liquid doses for children from adult capsules. A recent article overlooked a prime factor behind price variations in pharmacist-compounded Tamiflu ("Adding insult to illness: H1N1 drug prices vary widely for same dose," News, Wednesday). 

Incredibly, pharmacists pay the same price for Tamiflu capsules, whether the capsules contain 75mg of the drug or 30mg. Compounding a five-day supply from the strongest pills can cost the pharmacy about $40 for the active ingredient; getting that much from lower dose pills can run $100. That does not include liquid mixers, such as cherry syrup, or pharmacy overhead costs. 

During this health emergency, community pharmacists have helped provide relief to countless children and their parents. We appreciate the Food and Drug Administration's recent acknowledgement of the pharmacists' important role in compounding medications. Their efforts should be celebrated, not criticized. 

Joseph H. Harmison, PD
National Community Pharmacists Association
Arlington, Texas

To view the letter click here.

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