by Lindsey Ghiringhelli, Pharm.D., BCGP, consultant pharmacist, PharMerica
An enthusiastic crowd of pharmacy students, pharmacy technicians and pharmacists gathered on Sept. 12 to hear opening remarks from Larry Wagenknecht, Michigan Pharmacists Association (MPA) chief executive officer and Eric Liu, MPA’s director of professional affairs, before the sea of crisp white lab coats headed over to the steps of the Capitol Building. The day’s mantra is, “Pharmacists Care,” and we’re here to engage our legislators and show them what we are capable of. We delivered legislative packets to 110 representatives, thirty-eight senators, as well as Governor Snyder himself, with information about current legislative opportunities and to invite them down to our event for free lunch, vaccinations and health screenings. A large pharmacy tent on the south lawn offered blood pressure, glucose and lipids screens, as well as information tables and lunch to legislators and volunteers. Ninety flu vaccines were given and many legislators sat down with us to discuss our profession’s value and specific proposals over lunch. A second tent housed the drug disposal event which received over 1,500 pounds of medication, compared to 592 pounds last year, in just a few hours’ time.
Additional pharmacy advocacy activities included a press conference held with MPA leadership, Shelly Edgerton, director of the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, Michigan’s Chief Medical Executive Dr. Eden Wells, MPA’s President Jim Lile and the Department of Environmental Quality Office of Environmental Assistant’s Chief, Jack Schinderle, to promote pharmacy day, the new controlled substance reporting system and naloxone access. Pharmacy students were invited to attend a Senate Health Policy Committee meeting at which Larry Wagenknecht testified in support of legislation protecting the pharmacist’s right to refuse a controlled substance prescription without threat of civil lawsuits. Senator Mike Shirkey acknowledged our commanding presence in the capitol by opening the committee meeting with the comment, “The white coats are coming!” These are experiences that we can all draw on in order to continue promoting pharmacy in our daily practices throughout the year. It was an exciting day for Michigan pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and pharmacy students as we sent a resounding message to the Capitol: Pharmacists Care!
Pharmacy day is a stunning example of what we can accomplish as a profession when we all come together. Mark your calendars for next year’s Pharmacy Day at the Capitol on Sept. 11, 2018.