DRUG INDUSTRY: Ready for Y2K
Pharmacies across the nation, ranging from large chains to "mom and pop corner drugstores," have announced that their computer systems are ready for Y2K. The Pharmaceutical Alliance on Y2K, formed by various drugstore companies, has "routinely filed readiness surveys with the White House Y2K task force," and reports that consumers do not need to take any "extraordinary" precautions to prepare for the new millennium. Officials worry that small and independent pharmacies will not be as prepared as larger chains because of fewer resources. But a survey earlier this year by the National Community Pharmacists Association, a Washington trade group of independent drugstores, indicated that 95% of the nation's small druggists were Y2K-ready. One small pharmacy manager said the high level of preparation is because these stores are the owners' "livelihood" and they want "to make darn sure [they're] ready" (Burnett, Orlando Sentinel, 11/29).
Drug Manufacturers Get Ready
Major drug producers are "boosting their year-end stockpiles" and buying extra raw materials in hopes of preventing people from hoarding needed medications. Although they say they have corrected their computer systems, manufacturers fear patients, including senior citizens and diabetics, might overreact, causing a drug shortage. Drugmakers say, if necessary, they will be able to deliver medicines using methods employed during disasters. John Koskinen, Y2K Chief to President Clinton, said that in the past 20 years, nobody has gone without their medications for more than 24 to 36 hours, adding, "The only thing that could sink the system would be overreaction" (AP/Washington Post, 11/29). Pharmacists recommend asking doctors for an extra supply of medicine or refilling prescriptions just before Jan. 1. Insurance plans are "loosening" dosage caps to allow patients to be better prepared for the new year (Orlando Sentinel, 11/29).