lfor professional services rendered' There has been no lack of articles in the pharmaceutical literature in recent years on the professional fee . Initially, most of the articles were concerned with explaining the philosophy of the fee [as in the September 1962 JAPh A which was devoted entirely to the subject ]. J1![ore recently, the articles have concentrated on educating the pharmacist on the different methods for determining his fee [for example, the article by A PhA Executive Director William S. Apple in the January 1967 issue of J APhA devoted to explaining how a pharmacist may accurately determine the average professional fee he is currently realizing]. This doesn't mean, however, that there is universal agreement on the professional fee. This doesn't disturb me. What I am disturbed about is the time that it has taken to develop an understanding at the community pharmacist level. Some people still don't- and may never-get the idea.
So stated APhA President Max W. Eggleston at the Ohio Pharmaceutical Seminar earlier this year. We share President Eggleston's concern since we continue to receive letters from community pharmacists who reveal their misunderstanding of the professional fee when they writeI frankly don't like the professional fee concept of prescription pricing for it will inevitably lead to a deterioration 01 pharmacy service.
Furthermore, segments of the pharmaceutical press continue to place doubt in the minds of the practicing pharmacist by proc1aimingWe oppose the prof essional f ee concept because it has not been based on a sound and economic platform.
While we do not deny the right of the pharmaceutical press or community pharmacists to express their frank appraisals of the fee system, we would hope that decisions to accept or reject the fee would be based on facts. So that pharmacists everywhere can better understand the professional fee-its concept, its history, its advantages and its critics-we are devoting another entire issue to the subject. All we ask is that the critics-as well as those who still have lingering doubts concerning the fee-read the facts in this issue and then decide which system (fee or percentage markup) is best for the public as well as for the profession. In so doing, keep in mind that Congress recognized the professional fee in 1950 when it exempted dispensed prescriptions from the provisions of the Defense Production Act. Also keep in mind the charge of Judge Christenson during the antitrust trials in the early 1960's when he stated "There could have been many better means of dealing primarily with the price and cost of the services of a professional pharmacist" than the usual mark-up system. If you believe that you are providing a professional service when you dispense prescrip,. tion medication, then you should be using the professional fee. We don't know a better system to reflect what a pharmacist does and what value the pharmacist places on that effort. A prescription drug is not an ordinary article of commerce, being bought and sold by anyone, and professional services are not a function of ingredient cost. As we editorialized six years agoIf pharmacy is a learned profession- as we know it is- then now is the time for us to demonstrate that we have the ability to learn from our past and present experiences. Now is the time for us to recognize that Congress and the courts both reflect and influence the attitudes of ihe public as a whole. Now is the time to siop listening to those who stand for the status quo and tune in on the views of those who mold public opinion. Now is the time to undertake an objective and an unemotional study of the economics of dispensing prescription medication in a new era.
To this advice, we can only add that now is the time to convert to the professional fee which is economically sound, fair to all and accurately describes the value pharmacists charge "for professional services rendered."
-George B. Griffenhagen
Vol. NS8, No. 12, December 1968