Monday, October 18, 2010

Letter from Raj Bhat RPh to Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers Union President. 10-13-2010

To:                  Mr. Leo Gerard, President, United Steelworkers Union
Five Gateway Center, Pittsburg PA 15222
From:              Rajendra M. Bhat RPh, Tampa FL
Date:               October 13, 2010
Via:                  Express Mail


Dear Mr. Gerard:

This has reference to your letter dated July 30, 2010 (click here) and my response letter to you dated August 6, 2010 (click here). 

In your letter dated July 30, 2010, you had mentioned that you are also fighting to be free from corporate speed -ups, which you recognize endanger the workers and professionals as well as the public.  You had assured me that you were raising this issue with Medco Health Solutions in bargaining so that we can help create a more humane and safe workplace and ensure consumer safety.

You had also asserted that you were already advocating on behalf of pharmacists at Medco on this very issue, in the Indianapolis Star article (click here).  In that article your Union had mentioned that Medco makes high demands on its professional workers (technicians and pharmacists) to work at too fast a pace and termed it as UNREASONABLE PRODUCTION REQUIREMENTS.

That article also asserts that Medco’s own employees have said that Medco pushes the limits.  Your Union spokesperson, Ms. Maria Somma has also mentioned in that article "If a pharmacist can't read or decipher or understand the prescription, they will have to call the Doctor’s office to get to the bottom of it, that takes longer and the Company does not like it”. 

It is very evident from Ms. Somma’s quote that Medco wants to reduce costs by pressuring pharmacists (not to clarify unclear prescriptions) to squeeze in more profits at the expense of patient health and safety.

In a subsequent audio interview with National Public Radio (WMNF.org) (click here) in September 2010, your Union Vice President Mr. Fred Redmond had admitted to these unreasonable production demands, which he has mentioned as concerns “only at the New Jersey facility.”

I was surprised at his audio quote, which mentions "He had discussions with Medco Pharmacists in Tampa and had discussions with Medco and that there seems to be a consensus that work they do in Tampa does not put the public at direct jeopardy.”

This statement is totally misleading to say the least.

I would like to bring to the attention of Mr. Redmond that the Indianapolis Star article (click here) had also researched this issue.  It mentioned that in 2003, more than 40 pharmacists in Tampa signed a letter and sent it to the Florida Department of Health protesting the Company's demands to speed up their work to a pace of less than two minutes per prescription, even if the prescription was illegible or incomplete.

That article had also quoted the Tampa pharmacists “The unrelenting pressure and threat of disciplinary action in relation to ever-increasing rates and professional judgment issues has created a situation which puts patient health at grave risk". 

I am enclosing herewith the copy of that letter from Medco Pharmacists from Tampa for your immediate reference (click here).

I understand that Medco around 2007, transferred prescription entry and checking tasks by Pharmacists from Tampa to New Jersey and other facilities and to work-at-home pharmacists.  

I would also like to bring Mr. Redmond's attention to the fact that Pharmacy Technicians at Tampa are still entering prescriptions at the Tampa facility and they are pressured to reach the target of up to 70 prescriptions per hour by the end of this year (2010).

It is stunning to me that you all are not paying attention to these facts.

What comes to my mind is the Bridgestone – Firestone Fiasco.  The Employees were forced to cut comers and conduct Quality Specification checks at increasingly higher and unsafe rates per hour, to squeeze in more profits for the Company.  The employees for fear of retaliation and losing their jobs co-operated with the Management in the implementation of these unsafe practices.  As a result, the quality checks could not be completed accurately in the short span of time the employees were given to focus on the job at hand.  This resulted in faulty defective tires passing the quality specifications checks, which were later distributed for widespread public use.  Bursting of these tires left, right and center, led to so many lost lives of innocent people.


In your letter dated July 30, 2010 (click here), you had urged me to stop the fast and "trust in the collective power of the union to help solve this issue.”  In my response letter to you dated August 6, 2010 (click here), I had assured you that I would stop this fast promptly if you translated your words into action. 

In that letter, I requested you to negotiate with Medco and its Board of Directors to stop these wrongful practices; bring this matter to the attention of the public via national press; apprise the US Justice Department of the criminality of these practices; make yourselves available for US Senate Finance Committee hearings, and take appropriate actions to undo the damage caused to me by Medco.

You have not responded to my letter, though more than 2 months have passed by.

I understand that you have met Medco CEO, Mr. David Snow in the month of September 2010, in relation to this issue.

We have contacted your office and have still not gotten any definitive answers from you or the Union spokesperson.

Once again, I would like to emphasize here that for me the value of lives of innocent patients who can get hurt or killed (which includes children though I personally do not know them) is equally important in comparison to my own life, and lives of my family members.  Every single day that goes by, more such innocent lives of Medco patients are put in jeopardy.

I once again request you to communicate with me and let me and the public at large know about the details of your last meeting with Mr. David Snow, and how you are translating your assurances in the form of words into concrete actions to safeguard patient health and safety.

During the last month, I have seen you on MSNBC, talking about Workers' Rights and your criticism of the American Chamber of Commerce in its role of shipping American jobs overseas and its role in contributing to American elections via overseas funds.

It sounds ironic, to say the least, that you are not taking any concrete corrective actions in relation to an American company you oversee and stop its wrongful unsafe practices, that you yourselves have admitted jeopardizes patient health and safety here in the US.

Is this talk all just rhetoric on National TV and nothing more?


At this point in time, though I feel spiritually strong and at ease with my spirit and soul, I am uncertain as to how long my body will hold up, now that my hunger strike has gone past 100 days. 

In the midst of this uncertainty, at least you owe me a definitive answer one way or the other.  Your continuing silence and inaction to stop these practices invigorates my intent many folds to continue this fast indefinitely, till my last breath wherever it leads me to.

I take this opportunity to thank you for your time and attention.

Expecting to hearing from you soon,

Sincerely,
Rajendra Bhat RPh

Enclosures:

Monday, October 4, 2010

MY FINAL MESSAGE

 People have asked me why I am still continuing this hunger strike in peril of losing my own life. 

 Some have termed my fight as nutty, crazy etc. 

 I would like to express my thought process and my mind set on these issues.

Medco Health Solutions NYSE: MHS (Medco) pharmacy’s Dangerous business practices are indefensible by any standard of yardstick (legal, ethical and moral).  During the past 7 years or so (since 2003), I have fought this issue patiently in every other way without putting my life in harm’s way.  I urge the readers to review the facts I have presented in this regard  please see "JUSTICE DELAYED IS  JUSTICE  DENIED".

Why a Hunger Strike?
Because of the continuing threat to the health and safety of Medco’s patients, and justice being constantly delayed, denied and not even visible for years in the future, I had decided to take this matter directly to the Court of Public Opinion, by starting this Indefinite Fasting\ Hunger Strike on July 5, 2010. 

This hunger strike was not an impulsive decision.  I had given a great deal of thought before I started this fast.  People have asked me questions like ... why a hunger strike?  What is the logic of subjecting one's own life to harm’s way?  Why continue this fast indefinitely, now 92 days and counting.  Do you intend to kill yourself by continuing this fast?  etc.

My Fight for the Practice of Pharmacy
I would like to explain in detail here the moral compass of this issue and my mind set to continue this fast.  This is my fight on behalf of all the Pharmacists to safeguard the Practice of Pharmacy and our obligation to practice Pharmacy safely in the interests of vulnerable Patients at large.  This is also my fight to safeguard the rights of the Whistleblowers who show the courage to complain to the Regulatory Authorities in the interest of Public Health and Safety.  This is also my fight on behalf of all the families of whistle blowers who are placed in difficult situations and hardships for years attributed to Regulators and Legislators not doing their jobs for which they are hired.

A Widespread Appeal
By observing this fast in a peaceful and non-violent manner I have been appealing to the conscience of the American people at large, United Steelworkers Union, Public Interest Advocacy Groups, members of the Legal Profession, Legislature, Rating Agencies like JCAHO(Joint Commission), Regulatory Agencies, Board of Pharmacy, US Senate Finance Committee, Medco’s CEO, the Medco Board of Directors, the Medco shareholders, Florida Pharmacy Association, American Pharmacists Association and the members of the press.

This has also been my appeal to the conscience of Legislators and Lobbyists who knowingly do corporate bidding and compromise Public Interest and Safety.  I have written to most of these Institutions (in one form or the other) before and after I had started this fast.  All these communications will be placed on my blog at www.ihungerstrike.blogspot.com  for the benefit of the readers.

Christian or Otherwise
I am not a Religious scholar.  Hence, I ask my readers to correct me if I am wrong in my expressions of theology of religious pronouncements herein.  Just going by the demographic majority, I believe that the majority of these Regulators, Union Officials, the Medco CEO Mr. David Snow and other Medco officials, Attorneys who represent Medco, and, Legislators in positions of power, are Christians of one denomination or the other and that they believe that JESUS DIED FOR THE SINS OF HIS FELLOW MEN.

Maybe they go to church to pray to Jesus to bestow on them all the material comforts, (even at the cost of embracing or participating in deceitful actions).  Maybe, they pray to Jesus to give them smartness and intelligence to commit crimes against Society of which they are a part and ultimately represent.  Maybe, they do not pray to Jesus to give them strength and wisdom to do the right thing for which they are hired by Society.  Maybe, they think Jesus will get reborn and die again to rid them of their sins.  It is fascinating to listen to ongoing debates about personal salvation and collective salvation for Society, the role of the Ten Commandments and social justice etc.  Though I am not a Christian by religion, I highly regard the spiritual wisdom and values that emanate from the life of Jesus Christ and the principles of non-violence he symbolizes.

What is really intriguing to me ... strictly viewed from a material plane from Medco's point of view is that its Pharmacy Practice is not even a smart way to run the business.  Sweeping the dirt below the carpet and pretending to themselves and to the public how honorable their business practices are does not make any business sense by any standard of yardstick.  Sooner or later dirt under the carpet is going to stink. 

Another Preventable Disaster, For Example
What comes to my mind is the Bridgestone - Firestone Fiasco.  The employees were forced to cut corners and conduct Quality Specifications checks at increasingly higher and unsafe rates per hour, to squeeze in more profits for the Company.  The employees for fear of retaliation and losing their jobs co-operated with the Management in the implementation of these unsafe practices.  As a result, the quality checks could not be completed accurately in the short span of time the employees were given to focus on the job at hand.  This resulted in faulty defective tires passing the Quality Specifications checks, which were later distributed for widespread public use.  Bursting of these defective tires left, right and center, led to so many lost lives of innocent people.

Some people have expressed to me that if I did not like the way a company like Medco operated, I should have left voluntarily and there should not be any moral dilemma.  If I were to work in a profession that does not have to deal with public safety, (like a Home Improvement Store, Grocery Store) I would have walked away if I did not like the way they conducted the business.  In those kinds of circumstances, there would have been no moral dilemma for me. 

What I Believe
I am a Hindu by Religion.  I am not a religious person in conventional terms.  I know it will be a bad Karma (actions) and I will have to pay for the consequence of my actions in front of the Almighty force if I let down millions of these innocent patients and walk away from the bad Medco Pharmacy Practice for my own comfortable life for my family and me. 

According to my understanding of the purpose of life, this life is an opportunity to exercise our thinking capacity as human beings via our conscience to do the right actions (Karma) both in our personal and professional lives, especially when placed at difficult crossroads at various phases of life.

I also believe, we have control only over our own actions (right or wrong) and have no right over fruits or consequences of our actions.  I believe based on the right or wrong actions we do during the course of our life, we will carry with us an enhanced or diminished soul when we die in comparison to the soul force we came into this life with when we were born. 

I also believe bad Karma not only affects the personal soul of the individual in question, but also the collective souls of his/her family members in good or in bad ways as the case may be.  This concept is somewhat analogous to collective salvation for good actions and cumulative collective peril for bad actions, as pronounced in the Christian faith.

Don’t Do It?
Some of my well-wishers who are concerned about my health have advised me that my commitments towards my family should take precedence over Medco, a rogue company that is attempting to get away with business crimes using its enormous resources. 

With the same kind of presumptuous material logic, companies like Medco think that a whistleblower in my position or any of their regular Medco Pharmacists will not dare to take up this fight.  In fact, Medco attorneys did try to subtly intimidate me from pursuing my legal fight citing to me the same as a deterrent. 

On the face of it, on a material plane, some people might stand in judgment that by resorting to this moral fight I am abandoning the interests of my family.  I strongly believe in the opposite.  In the spiritual terms, I know I am protecting my family from consequences of a potential bad Karma if I were to abandon millions of innocent patients for our own material comfort and turn a blind eye to Medco’s bad business practices.  Hence, my family is supporting me strongly in this fight.  They are all spiritually strong and handling this with a great degree of calm, composure and inner strength.

A Few Comments about Corporate America
I would like to emphasize here that I am a strong proponent of American Capitalism directed towards achievement of both individual and corporate well being and prosperity. 

There are so many Good Corporations who exhibit Good Corporate Citizenry and believe in doing the right thing.  In reality, they exercise their responsibilities and obligations to the work force, the customers and society in a lofty and commendable manner.  In such instances, there is no necessity for a watchdog group or an organized union to hold them accountable for public health and safety transgressions. 

On the other hand, there are some Corporations like Medco, who exhibit Bad Corporate Citizenry and have a total disregard for public safety and health.  The unfortunate part of all this is... when a Company like Medco is allowed to get away with these criminal acts, other rogue companies in this competitive health care industry follow suit.  This will undoubtedly cause irreparable damage to the practice of Pharmacy profession, the next generation of pharmacists, and the patients at large; it will also leave the whole system in shambles.

I highly appreciate and understand the concerns expressed for my health and the welfare of my family, but

THE CAUSE OF MY FIGHT IS BIGGER AND MORE IMPORTANT THAN ME AND OUR FAMILY INTERESTS.  

I believe I have done enough to safeguard my family interests to the best of my ability, human limitations of circumstances and my conscience.

Go to the Doctor?
Some have also suggested to me that I should go to a Doctor and get his approval to further carry on this fight.  When a soldier takes up his job, he and his family know anything can happen.  However, he should battle with his focus on the task at hand.  When in harm’s way, fearing consequences, he cannot carry on his fight wanting or expecting the Doctor to approve his situation.  In any case, no Doctor would give his approval to continue to deprive oneself of food for days at a stretch. 

The Purpose of this Hunger Strike
I would like to emphasize here that I did not start this fast to die for this cause.  I started this fight to awaken public awareness to this issue and hold Medco accountable. 

My goals have been to continue this fast until Medco agrees to stop these UNSAFE & DANGEROUS Business Practices and take responsibility for them.

What that means is... 
1.      Medco should allow Pharmacists enough time to completely and accurately check prescriptions according to the requirements of its own Standard Operations Procedure (SOP).  
2.      Medco should stop penalizing and disciplining Pharmacists for exercising their Professional Judgment and seeking doctor call clarifications of unclear scribbled prescriptions. 

These goals have not yet been achieved which has necessitated continuation of this fast indefinitely.

A Message from United Steelworkers;  My Request Gets No Reply
 In response to my fast, the United Steelworkers Union, which oversees Medco Pharmacists and Technicians all over the country, had urged me to stop the fast and “trust in the collective power of the union to help solve this issue,” (USW letter dated July 30, 2010).  I assured the President of the United Steelworkers Union Mr. Leo Gerard that I would stop this fast promptly if he translated his words into action (my letter to him dated August 6, 2010). 

In that letter I asked him to negotiate with Medco and its Board of Directors to stop these wrongful practices; bring this to the attention of the public via national press; apprise the US Justice Department of the criminality of these practices; make himself available for US Senate Finance Committee hearings, and take appropriate actions to undo the damage caused to me by Medco.

Mr. Gerard has not responded to my letter, though almost 2 months have passed by. I understand that Mr. Gerard has met Medco CEO, Mr. David Snow in the month of September, in relation to this issue.  We have contacted Mr. Gerard’s office and have still not gotten any definitive answers from him or the Union spokesperson.  

My Final Wishes
It is very clear to me now that it has become all the more important and necessary on my part to keep continuing to fight this issue until my last breath. 

No Intervention
I have made it clear that during the course of my fast, there will be no medical intervention or hospitalization for any reason including semi consciousness or coma.  I have made these intentions to the legal effect very clear in my Living Will.  It is 92 days now and counting that I have been carrying out this fast. 

At this point of time, though I feel spiritually strong and at ease with my spirit and soul, I am uncertain as to how long my body will hold up.  In the midst of this uncertainty, before it is too late, it is only appropriate that I apprise the readers, my family members, friends, supporters and members of the press here in the US and all over the world with this last message. 

Keep Blogging
In the spirit of this cause, if I do not physically survive this as the days and weeks go by, it is my wish that this blog www.ihungerstrike.blogspot.com is maintained for posterity. 

Collect the Facts
It is also my wish that additional facts and information we have gathered since the time I started this fast, be secured separately by my family and supporters for posterity.

Promise to Speak Up
It is also my wish that all the Pharmacists and supporters who have assured me to make themselves available to testify under oath in revelation of Medco Practices do so in the future when (sooner or later) inevitable criminal investigations and Senate hearings will be conducted to hold Medco accountable. 

 Medco wants me to move on and let it get away with this public safety issue, to enable the continuation of these dangerous practices unchecked.  If I do so, I will be SAVING MY OWN PHYSICAL and MATERIAL EXISTENCE, and in the process LETTING DOWN MILLIONS OF TRUSTING INNOCENT PATIENTS. This practically amounts to CEASING TO LIVE ONE'S LIFE AS a HUMAN FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE, DEFYING MY OWN CONSCIENCE. 

I still believe that we are living in a humane society and not in a lawless wild west.  I see this as my obligation to all those 65 millions of innocent, vulnerable Medco patients that may include my own family, your family and many other families (known or unknown to us now or in the future).  All these other innocent lives are as important to me as my own life, and lives of my family members.  We should not be leaving the next generation of both patients and pharmacists in a state of chaos either.

Updates to be continued
We will try to provide daily updates about my continuing Hunger Strike on this blog to the extent it is physically possible for me to coordinate.  At some point, if I cannot do so, we will keep my family members and supporters informed via e-mail from time to time.  Concerned readers and members of the press can contact us and keep in touch via the information provided, please see, "CONTACTS".  My family members/spokespersons will try to keep in touch with as many supporters as possible as dictated by the demands of the current trying circumstances.

Join the Fight
I urge the readers to POST THEIR COMMENTS ON THIS BLOG and keep the debate going.  The readers can also join this fight via actions as pronounced at "WHAT YOU CAN DO.”  During the past 92 days and more, via this non-violent and peaceful protest, I have been appealing to the consciences of the Institutions who have the power to take action to stop these dangerous practices. By not stopping these wrongful practices on their own accord and not accepting responsibility, the Medco CEO and its Board of Directors have CONTINUED TO ABUSE AND DISHONOR THEIR OWN PERSONAL AND COLLECTIVE CONSCIENCES.  By spending more than 600,000 dollars in just the last quarter (2nd Quarter 2010) for lobbying, they continue these indefensible practices unchecked via CONTINUING collusion with the legislators and regulators.

I believe that we all are assigned specific purposes in our respective lives when we are born in this society.  If my purpose in life ultimately turns out to be laying down my life to safeguard innocent fellow human beings from the crimes and sins committed against them, then I consider it is my privilege and honor to do so through my actions.  Maybe only when somebody in a position like mine pays the ultimate price can we spur the individual and collective conscience of Society and bring the required changes.  I also pray to God to bless all those souls who are directly responsible or are an accessory to these crimes and sins against the Society at large.

Thank You
I take this opportunity to thank all my family members, friends, supporters and journalists for all their help and support in bringing this issue to the attention of the public.

I dedicate my fight to the memories of all those people who have fought or given up their lives to fight injustices against Society in a non-violent and peaceful manner.

Rajendra “Raj” Bhat RPh
Tampa, Florida
October 4, 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Justice Delayed is Justice Denied

For more than 7 years now... I have patiently fought this “Quota System” issue, a bad business practice of Medco Health Solutions NYSE: MHS (Medco), in every other way, investing a lot of my personal time and efforts.

This issue started way back in 2003.

Medco employed me as a pharmacist from 1995-2005 working in Tampa Florida.  I served Medco with good productivity and quality records.  Initially, I pleaded with Medco supervisors, earnestly explaining to them, logically, in a common sense way, why Medco Pharmacy Practices jeopardized patient health and safety and why it was not even smart to conduct the business in the manner they did.

Concerned Medco Pharmacists attended the Florida Board of Pharmacy meeting in June 2003 and brought these Practices to the attention of the Board.  This Board specifically mentioned Florida Statute 465.026 as the remedy and asked us to submit a Complaint. 

We were told they would promptly stop these practices.  More than 40 pharmacists signed a common complaint and submitted it to the Board of Pharmacy.

What transpired afterwards was a different story.  Medco employed former Board of Pharmacy members, Mr. Rod Pressnell and Mr. Roger Anderson and via a cozy relationship with the Florida Department of Health ensured that this complaint was not brought to the attention of Board of Pharmacy for immediate action as was promised.  

It did not take long for me to understand that these Practices were clearly dictated by Medco CEO Mr. David Snow, who had practically no regard for patient health and safety.  He had invested a great deal of Medco resources via lobbying and collusion with Regulators and Politicians.  He made sure that Medco could push the envelope to the extremes to squeeze in more and more profits and keep on jeopardizing patient health and safety unchecked.

The Board of Pharmacy did not do anything to correct the situation.  From February-April 2005, we pharmacists approached US Senate Finance Committee and requested the Committee to hold hearings on Medco practices.  We even talked to the Committee Investigator Ms. Emilia Desantos and volunteered to testify under oath.  She told us that, “the Committee had more power than the courts to subpoena various documents from Medco to get at the truth.”  However, she also told us that, “Medco lobbyists were all over the place at the Senate offices.”  It was clear to us that Medco used a great deal of its resources in lobbying the US Senate Finance Committee in its opposition to our request to hold Committee hearings.

Ultimately, nothing was done to stop these practices.

Later in July 2005, Medco retaliated against me by firing me four days after the Florida Department of Health decided to close the Medco Complaint after a knee jerk review, dictated by Medco.  I complained to the Board of Pharmacy as well as the Senate Finance Committee about this retaliation.  Department of Health Counsel representing the Board of Pharmacy via a letter to me admitted that my concern for patient safety outweighed Medco’s concern and unfortunately, I was punished by Medco.  The Senate Finance Committee was indifferent and turned a blind eye.

Since all these public servants did not do the jobs for which they were hired,  I was left with the only option of taking Medco to Court using my own resources.

I filed a lawsuit in 2007.  The Judge denied Medco's arguments to dismiss my case and asked us to proceed with the discovery process.

During the 2 year discovery process from 2007-2009, we had taken depositions of many Medco supervisors, executives and other witnesses.  We had ample evidence to substantiate that Medco was guilty of violating Florida Pharmacy Statute 465.026 of interference in a Pharmacists' Professional Judgment and the Whistleblower Statute 448.102 for retaliation.

On the completion of the discovery process in October 2009, we were given trial dates by the Judge for February 2010.  

Out of the blue, Medco requested from the Judge a Summary Judgment Hearing a few days before the pretrial conference in January 2010.  During the first Summary Judgment hearing in January 2010, Judge Sam Pendino stated that the statutes applied and determined that we would proceed with the trial.

Overnight he changed his decision and stated he wanted a second Summary Judgment hearing.  This time he ruled in favor of Medco, despite the fact that Medco had made the same arguments during the summary judgment hearing as the ones it made in 2007 to dismiss the case in the first place when the lawsuit was originally filed.

The judge had denied Medco’s plea for dismissal of my case then in 2007.

Despite the prevalence of lot of evidence we had collected during the discovery process from 2007-2009 to substantiate the facts, the Judge ruled in 2010 in Medco's favor without a trial.  This is intriguing to say the least.

 The Judge also mentioned that if he were to rule in favor of me, Medco would appeal his decision and if he were to decide in Medco's favor, I would appeal his decision.

This clearly baffled me.  I thought the job of the judiciary is to look at the evidence objectively and grant justice solely based on the evidence, pure and simple and not summarily determine one way or the other at the flip of a coin in a manner he approached this case and gave his judgment.

In addition, Judge Pendino made so many other statements during that hearing that did not exude any determination based on judicial Principles of Justice.

The transcripts of these hearings are part of public record and the statements of the Judge clearly indicate this.  It is an indisputable travesty of Justice that Judge Pendino of the Circuit Court did not give me an opportunity via trial to substantiate all the facts revealed during the discovery process.  

If any member of the legal profession or Judiciary looks at the myriad of evidence we had collected, they will have no hesitation in determining that the Judge was very unjust in deciding this case via a Summary Judgment without an opportunity for a trial.

By March 2010, we had already appealed the Judge's decision to the Second District Court and both the parties had submitted their respective briefs.  But I understand the completion of this appellate procedure may take anywhere from 2-5 years.  This practically amounts to "Justice delayed is Justice denied" for me as well as for the millions of Medco patients whose health and safety have been jeopardized by a continuation of these extremely dangerous Medco Practices.

Since this is a matter of great public importance, to expedite this process, we had requested the Second District Court of Appeal to certify this case directly to the Florida Supreme Court.  

Our request was denied in April 2010.

Again, it is a travesty of Justice that the Second District Court of Appeal did not decide to certify this case directly to the Supreme Court as one of great public importance requiring immediate resolution in the interest of public safety.  Hence, this appellate process and Supreme Court's final determination of this case could drag on for 5 years and more, at the expense of immense harm to Society leaving the Practice of Pharmacy also in chaos.

I have tried every other way to hold Medco accountable for its bad Pharmacy Practices the “Quota System” which also takes away the pharmacists’ obligation to exercise his/her professional judgment and seek doctor call clarification of unclear prescriptions.

At this time, I believe I have a moral obligation to bring this issue directly to the attention of Society at large via this hunger strike.

People have asked me why I am continuing this hunger strike at the peril to my own life.  I have elaborated my thought process, mindset and moral compass on this issue in "MY FINAL MESSAGE" on the home page.

Rajendra “Raj” Bhat RPh
Tampa, FL
September 30, 2010

Readers: This post will be archived permanently under the 'tab' Justice Delayed is Justice Denied after October 6, 2010 . 

Sunday, September 19, 2010

National Public Radio Listens to Bhat v Medco

Click here to read WMNF.org Senior Producer/Reporter Kate Bradshaw's printed story or listen to her 7-minute radio interview which starts at "minute 28".

Thank you to WMNF 88.5FM Community Radio, Tampa Florida.

-Raj Bhat RPh
Tampa, FL

United Steelworkers Writes..."Trust in the Collective Power of Your Union"

July 17, 2003.
43 Tampa Florida Pharmacists sign an Official Complaint about unethical Medco pharmacy practices i.e. "the Quota System". The letter is addressed to the Florida Board of Pharmacy.   Read the letter. 
Friday, July 30, 2010.
The United Steelworkers Union respond to a letter from pharmacist Raj Bhat in Tampa.  President Leo Gerard urges Mr. Bhat to ..."trust in the collective power of your union to help solve this (the Quota System) issue".

Friday, September 17, 2010.
Mr Fred Redmond, United Steelworkers International Vice President (Human Affairs), is  interviewed by National Public Radio, WMNF.org,  88.5 FM, Tampa Florida. The interview centers around Mr Bhat's 75 day hunger strike protesting "the Quota System at Medco"; it is a dangerous business practice that must be put to a stop.  Bringing the story to the court of public opinion, Senior Producer Kate Bradshaw asks the Union if there are complaints about the Quota System. He says the Union is fielding some problems in New Jersey but it is not aware of any concerns in Tampa. This is perplexing.  Why doesn't Fred Redmond give all the facts in their proper perspective?   Want to hear the 7 minute interview?  or read the interview article? (LISTEN or READ - CLICK HERE)  

Please read the (7/30/2010) USW letter to Raj Bhat and make an informed decision for yourself as to why Mr Redmond is trying to evade the (Quota System) issue.


Transcript of Letter
to Raj Bhat RPh, Tampa Florida
from Leo Gerard, United Steelworkers International President.

July 30, 2010

Dear Mr Bhat:

We were very moved by your letter of July 24, 2010.  The cause you are fighting for - the right of workers and professionals to be free from corporate speed-ups which endanger not only themselves but also the public - is one which the USW is fighting for as well.  Be assured that the USW will be raising this issue with Medco in bargaining so that we can help to create a more humane and safe workplace as well as to ensure consumer safety.  Indeed, as you can see from the following article, the USW is already advocating on behalf of pharmacists at Medco on this very issue. Read article.

In the meantime, while your willingness to put your life on the line through a hunger strike to highlight this issue is admirable, we urge you to cease that action immediately and to trust in the collective power of your union to help solve this issue. We need you healthy and strong to help us with this fight.

Sincerely yours,
Leo W. Gerard
International President

Fred Redmond
International Vice President (Human Affairs)

USW. Five Gateway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.
412.562.2400
http://www.usw.org/


-RB
9/19/2010