[Noozhawk’s note: This article is part of Day 5 in Noozhawk’s 12-day, six-week special investigative series, Prescription for Abuse. Related links are below.]
Name: Peter Caldwell Pharm.D.
Location: Santa Barbara
Pharmacist Peter Caldwell jokes that his career path was set as an infant when his parents used a prescription cabinet for his bassinet.
Caldwell‘s family has been in the pharmacy business since his father, Mike, married a young woman named Mary who worked the cash register at a pharmacy in Seattle during the 1940s.
Caldwell runs L.M. Caldwell Pharmacy with a sense of humor — a good trait to have, given the size of the health-care industry today from what it was when he took over the family business in 1977.
“Bureaucracy is the biggest consumer of health care at the moment,” he said.
Getting insurance companies out of the health-care business would be the best thing for everyone, Caldwell says.
It is luck that the Caldwells ended up in Santa Barbara.
Caldwell’s father was an avid golfer and grew tired of walking Seattle’s soggy courses after it rained. After hearing about a golfer’s paradise called La Jolla, he decided to move his family down the coast.
While visiting Santa Barbara on their way south, the family’s Buick broke down and they were stranded for a three-day weekend. They enjoyed the beach community so much that they never left.
He was stationed in an administrative post at a training and supply base in the Seattle area before returning to Santa Barbara.
Caldwell’s mother ran the pharmacy’s business and worked there until she was 90.
“This was my mother’s social life,” he said. “Here she had all this social activity all the time. She knew all the people, they knew her, and that’s really what kept her going all that time.”
With neither of his daughters interested in becoming pharmacists, Caldwell, 67, plans to keep working as long as he enjoys it.
Caldwell says misuse of prescription medications is becoming a major issue but pharmacists are now prevented by HIPAA privacy rules from notifying each other about forged prescriptions.
“It put a damper on our ability to do the things we want to do to protect the public and the providers,” he said.
Caldwell says the state of California also made a mistake by no longer selling standardized prescription pads to physicians. Today, he says he sees prescription pads in a variety of shapes and with different security features.
“We’re not cops,” Caldwell said. “We’re not supposed to be having to check the validity of every person who comes through the door, but we’re having to do that sort of thing.”