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Pharmacists profit from misery of addicts, says MSP

By News team

Scotland’s pharmacists were yesterday (8 November 2012) branded “methadone millionaires” who profit from people’s misery by Scottish Labour MP Jenny Marra, in what the Royal Pharmaceutical Society has called an “absolutely unacceptable” attack for which she should apologise.

Ms Marra’s comments were made in Scotland’s Daily Record newspaper ahead of a debate about updating the Scottish Government’s 2008 drugs strategy, “The road to recovery”. The paper quotes Ms Marra as saying that current system is creating “methadone millionaires who are profiting exponentially from the misery of recovering addicts, at taxpayers’ expense.”

RPS director for Scotland Alex MacKinnon said the Society is extremely concerned that her comments bring the profession into disrepute — and do Scotland’s frontline community pharmacists a great disservice.

He said: “For community pharmacists to be ridiculed and attacked in such a way for carrying out the provision of an NHS service is absolutely unacceptable. I would have hoped that such comments would be reserved for the drug gangs who blight our communities, not pharmacists carrying out their professional duty of caring for patients.”

Ms Marra, who is MSP for North East Scotland and Scottish Labour’s spokeswoman for community safety, should now apologise to Scotland’s pharmacists, said Mr MacKinnon.

Marra responds: we need to know where money is going

Responding to the outcry against her comments, Ms Marra said: “While we recognise the advantages that methadone brings as one part of a comprehensive drugs strategy, we need to know that public money is being spent to do more than simply strand addicts in the system.

“We believe that, in its review, the Government should look at the allocation of public resources to the drugs strategy and ask what measures can be taken to address the postcode anomaly of payments.”

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society emphasised that a number of supportive speeches were made during and after the debate by many MSPs about the value of the work that methadone-dispensing pharmacists carry out. The RPS supports the review of the drugs strategy and plans to contribute to the review panel’s work, it said in a statement.

Earlier this year the RPS went to pharmacists’ defence after the Daily Record published a series of articles criticising pharmacists for their role in supplying methadone.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11111135

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