Do you think it’s time for a documentary film showcasing the current state of community pharmacy? I’m here today to argue the answer is yes.
It’s been a little over 100 years since Upton Sinclair’s famous book The Jungle went to print. The film version of his depiction of the meat-packing industry in the United States was released a few years later under the same title.
Sinclair did a lot with his well known piece of literature. He tackled corporate greed and corruption, terrible working conditions, and educated the public regarding the dangers of tainted meat distribution.
What Sinclair did most effectively was explain the public health danger that these meat-processing plants posed. People became concerned for the safety of the meat they were eating. And that concern sparked real change.
Fast forward one hundred years and you can now witness another industry that is battling many of the same problems. Community pharmacy is now facing a similar crisis and the general public is either not aware of the problem or they simply haven’t been explained why it matters.
What needs to be done now is expose the general public to the health dangers of operating community pharmacies that are understaffed with pharmacists who are over-worked. Make the association between dangerous working conditions and misfills. If people realized the health dangers of frequent prescription misfills, they might react with a similar outrage that Sinclair’s work caused.
Focusing education efforts on the plight of pharmacy employees seems like it’s the way to the hearts of the public. But Sinclair succeeded at change not because of worker sympathy, but because of public safety concerns and the associated outrage.
While most of the public may not sympathize with a pharmacist who is over-worked, they can relate to a grandmother who is hospitalized due to a medication error. And that is the message someone needs to tell.
I think the current state of community pharmacy warrants a sequel to The Jungle. And a documentary film that is open and honest about community pharmacy might just be the perfect way to expose the truth.
The working conditions at the average community pharmacy has deteriorated to a level that puts the general public at risk. The sooner someone from within the profession exposes this truth, the better we will all be in the long run.
It’s time to expose the corruption and greed that corporate pharmacies exhibit. It’s time to challenge the boards that turn a blind eye to real problems. It’s time to point fingers and to put numbers and faces to the medication errors that results from under-staffing pharmacies.
I think an effort such as a documentary film that specifically addresses community pharmacy’s plight could be a real impetus for change. But who is willing to shine a light into our profession’s dark corners? Who will be willing to ask the tough questions and demand answers?
It’s time for the public to see an honest look at community pharmacy. It’s time for a sequel to a book that caused real change.
Pharmacy simply needs to find someone willing to do what it takes to get out the truth. We need our industry exposed for what it’s now become. We need our own Upton.
The Redheaded Pharmacist