Truth in fiction: Pharmacist has writing gig

Monday, November 3, 2014

Community pharmacist Jason Rodgers returned to his hometown to attend the funeral of his mentor. Suspicious of how he died, he begins investigating what he thought was an insurance billing scam, but he uncovers an international terrorist plot. And you thought auditors were scary. Rodgers is the hero in community pharmacist David Perry’s debut novel, The Cyclops Conspiracy. Perry, who manages a pharmacy department in Newport News, Va., has had an interest in writing since his college days. Perry spoke with HME News recently about why it’s important to write what you know.

HME News: You’ve published two novels, both of which are the first installments of planned trilogies featuring pharmacists. Was it time for pharmacists to emerge as fictional heroes?

David Perry: I’ve never seen anyone write about a pharmacist as a protagonist or pharmacy in general. You can walk into the pharmacy, walk up to the counter and ask a pharmacist a question. I believe we are still one of the most respected healthcare professionals out there, so I think it follows that we should have pharmacists in stories that are heroes and heroic.

HME: Silly question: What skills does a pharmacist have for fighting terrorists?

Perry: A pharmacist doesn’t necessarily have the expertise to take down a terrorist, but in the story, he hooks up with some Secret Service and some FBI agents to help him. I also gave him applicable characteristics to do that, like expertise with guns.

HME: You’ve worked both as a hospital pharmacist and, for the past 18 years, as a community pharmacist. What do you like about community pharmacy?

Perry: Just getting to know the patients, most of whom I see on a weekly basis, so I get to know them a lot better then doctors do and maybe nurses do. I get to see what their issues are, what their concerns are. And now that we do flu shots we can we actually take part in preventing disease rather than just dispensing a pill to help fix it.

HME: Do you think there will always be a place for community pharmacy?

Perry: I don’t see it going away. I talk to a lot of folks that use mail order who were previously my patients. They have trouble getting prescriptions delivered on time, or getting their questions answered. Unfortunately, the mail order industry is not as customer friendly as it could be.