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Executive Summary

ASHP SHOULD INITIATE "REMEDIAL ACTION" AGAINST ANY FAILURE IN DRUG DISTRIBUTION systems at hospitals, incoming American Society of Hospital Pharmacists (ASHP) President Herman Lazarus has told his assn.'s members. In his inaugural address at ASHP's annual meeting at Reno, Nev., University of Alabama Hospitals Pharmacy Director Lazarus, urged hospital pharmacists to "get to work within our own institutions, examining the drug distribution system in use, identifying potential areas where that system might fail, and initiating remedial action. The assn.'s delegates, on the same day of Lazarus' address, agreed "to support legislation that would specifically prohibit bulk resale of drugs" by hospital pharmacists to drug "redistributors," who then resell or export them. ASHP's board explained: "These sales have no real connection with the health-care mission of a hospital and may be detrimental to the public health." "What is pharmacy's responsibility to society at large?" Lazarus asked ASHP's members. "I propose that it could be far greater than it is at the present time. Consider, for example, the Murry of stories on hospital medication errors that have appeared on television and in newspapers during recent months. Many of them involved injectable drugs; the circumstances surrounding them, according to published reports, involved some fairly basic mistakes in labeling and handling procedures." Continuing, Lazarus asked: "Where were the pharmacists when these errors occurred? None have been implicated in any of the recent tragedies. But I believe that when tragedies like this achieve nationwide publicity it is time that we speak out. The purpose of our message should be both to inform and to reassure -- - to inform the public about what pharmacists have done to reduce the medication error rate through wide use of appropriate drug distribution systems, and to reassure them by making them aware that millions of drugs are dispensed safely and accurately each year."

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