Publication Date 01/05/2011         Volume. 3 No. 4   
Information to Pharmacists


From the desk of the editor

It looks as though our Newsflash Column has found favour with our readers.
One article “Analysis: The Pharmacy Alliance and API Dispute” drew record numbers of page reads which illustrates the intense interest that is being generated by the unpopular Pfizer Direct delivery system.
One cannot but help feel that because of the unfair motivation and callous indifference to pharmacy patients that Pfizer will eventually regret this move as pharmacists keep snipping at the business model, to either make it work or bring it down.
It will take a little while to engineer a “work around” – but it will come.

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Ideas on Drug Addiction Interventions

Neil Johnston

articles by this author...

Neil Johnston is a pharmacist who trained as a management consultant. He was the first consultant to service the pharmacy profession and commenced practice as a full time consultant in 1972, specialising in community pharmacy management, pharmacy systems, preventive medicine and the marketing of professional services. He has owned, or part-owned a total of six pharmacies during his career, and for a decade spent time both as a clinical pharmacist and Chief Pharmacist in the public hospital system. He has been editor of i2P since 2000.

In a departure from our normal Pharmedia content I was intrigued to find that "medical marijuana" had achieved a position of "normalcy" in some states of America.
Although I personally hold traditional views about this type of drug, it is not going to go away as a social problem under our current regime.
Then I got to thinking about the parallel problems of injecting heroin, nicotine addiction and alcohol addiction and whether there was potential for treating these problems with pharmacist-supervised and limited sale of these types of products.
I therefore asked Mark Coleman to comment and his commentary appears below the article following:

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Socially Conscious Design: Medical Marijuana Dispensary Wins Architecture Award

The American Institute of Architects’ 2011 Design Award winner for Interior Architecture was the San Francisco Patient and Resource Center (SPARC), a medical marijuana dispensary that provides cheap, quality cannabis to patients.

The AIA stated:

The architecture strove to convey their socially conscious philosophy by giving the medical cannabis industry a positive presence in the community, with an environment of grace and craft through environmentally sensitive design and inventive detail. The jury saluted the strong social commentary and apothecary-like feel of this beautiful project.


Designed by Sand Studios, the center features wooden boxes stacked all along one wall, a menu and prices on hanging LCD screens and glass pendant lamps. The counters, tables and benches are made from locally-sourced oak and the marijuana is stored in glass apothecary jars with custom designed labels.

Mark Coleman

I am asked to comment on the above news item and for once I am a bit "stumped" as to what I should feel about this subject, including pharmacist involvement.

But whatever I feel about this issue, it is one that needs some light shining upon it and perhaps i2P readers can join in and comment in the panel below.

There is no doubt that drug addiction in all of its forms is a serious problem. The social issues generated by having to feed any addiction gives rise to various crimes, some extremely violent depending on the choice of drug.
Many pharmacists would already have experience in the harm-minimisation processes utilising methadone for opiate dependence, and nicotine patches, gums and lozenges for nicotine addiction.
There is an argument here for all tobacco products to be retricted for sale in this type of environment.
Medical marijuana is known to be able to treat various types of pain, particularly cancer pain.
It also has a beneficial effect on the condition of multiple sclerosis.
Should valid patients be denied access?

The destruction of families and the dangers some children face within addict environments seems to spawn an endless litany of social dislocation and destruction, at an enormous cost to our community.

So I would comment that our training as pharmacists does equip us to be involved with addicts at all levels.
Our young people are destroying themselves through binge drinking and intervention is urgently needed here. Surely alcoholic drinks over a certain volume and concentration could be limited for sale to an environment such as the above?
There would also be a need to link in with specialist counsellors and other community health resources for referral.
I would also comment that this environment would need to be associated with a pharmacy but be physically separated from that pharmacy. This so that distractions such as shoplifting could be discouraged through secure fixtures and fittings, and that client behaviour could be better controlled away from normal customer traffic flows. Access through a conjoined dispensary/professional area could enable rapid pharmacist intervention when required, also information provision.
Swipe cards issued to registered customers could record all transactions for amalgamation with other primary health records.

I also see this type of environment as being strong on all forms of information - written, poster and audio-visual - to ensure clients are equipped with strategies to curb their addiction problem.

Security systems would also need to be a feature with an emergency response protocol rehearsed and backed up by trained professional security personnel. Normal staff would need a higher proportion of males to females.

All the above is only speculation on what may be able to be delivered. But as I have worked my way through the various issues I do believe that an outpost service like the above may have definite merit and some impact on community addiction problems.
I also like the intent behind the interior design - one of calmness and respect.

Is there any entrepreneurial pharmacist out there willing to pioneer a working model?

That is, provided all the political impediments can be appropriately set aside.

My view is that nicotine and alcohol sales would generate sufficient cash flows to fund the entire program.

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