Awards given, issues discussed at annual forum.

On the eve of a possibly historic Congressional vote on health care reform, more than 500 APhA2010 attendees gathered on March 15 in Washington, DC, to honor the profession’s finest in government affairs and discuss key pharmacy issues with Senate staffers.

This year’s Political Leadership Breakfast included presentations of the 2010 Hubert Humphrey Award to Eddie M. Madden, BPharm, from Hartwell, GA; the Good Government Pharmacist-of-the-Year Award to Norman P. Tomaka, BPharm, CPh, LHRM, from Melbourne, FL; and the Good Government Student Pharmacist-of-the-Year Award to Kenneth Fletcher, 2010 PharmD Candidate, from Mesa, AZ.

Liz Fowler, PhD, JD, and Mark Hayes, BPharm, JD, on staff with the Senate Finance Committee, made brief remarks about health care reform and answered questions posed by the pharmacists and student pharmacists in attendance. Their comments were off the record and are not reported further here. Fowler and Hayes serve as Democratic and Republican committee staff, respectively.

Attendance at the event was one of the highest figures in recent years.

Madden, founder and president of Madden’s Pharmacy in Elberton, GA, served in the Georgia State Senate from 1993 through 2001. He is the current president of the Georgia Pharmacy Association.

In accepting the Humphrey Award, Madden said more pharmacists need to run for public office at all levels. “Pharmacists are excellent candidates for political office. They are highly respected and have a natural talent for communicating with people. They have an innermost nature of caring for patients that translates to a need to do more beyond the doors of their practice.”

Pharmacists elected at one level need to run for the next higher level, Madden added. “We especially need pharmacists in the Congress where our presence is sparse,” he said. The one pharmacist in Congress, Democrat Marion Berry of Arkansas, is retiring at the end of his current term.

Introduced as a man who “goes about 21 or 22 hours a day,” Tomaka called on pharmacists to make sure that Congress and other leaders understand the potential of medication therapy management but also to address the challenges of a divided nation. “Through our work in our practice sites, each one of us can promote a spirit of positive government and less divisive accusation by encouraging participation in the free political process we are so blessed to have. We must embrace civil and positive discussion of those issues, even if it is health care reform.”

Tomaka is the current chairman of the board of directors of the Florida Pharmacy Association and a member of the Florida Pharmacy Legislative Committee. He is the Florida media advisory consultant with APhA. He practices at 15 outpatient procedure centers as the clinical and consultant pharmacist for Holmes Regional Medical Center/Health First, Inc.

Fletcher, a final-year student pharmacist at Midwestern University College of Pharmacy in Glendale, AZ, comes to pharmacy after two decades in banking. As a member of the Arizona Pharmacy Alliance Legislative Committee, he has been actively seeking immunization privileges for student pharmacists.

Fletcher implored pharmacists and student pharmacist to do what they can when it comes to legislative activism. Quoting Everett Edward Hale, he concluded: “I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something. Because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do.”