IACP’s Sarah Dodge, Vice President of Government Affairs, Describes a Typical Day in D.C.
I’m often asked what the typical day is like in Washington, D.C. As the lead lobbyist for the International Academy of Compounding Pharmacists (IACP), the only organization specifically representing the interests of compounding pharmacists in the United States and abroad, no day is really ever the same. IACP currently represents more than 2,100 compounding pharmacists and pharmacy technicians as well as more than 162,000 patients and practitioners comprising IACP’s Patients and Professionals for Customized Care (P2C2) advocacy organization. Our issues are varied and often complex, and can change on a daily basis.
On most any day, I usually get to my desk (usually after attending a fundraising breakfast or a candidate meet and greet first thing in the morning) and immediately begin checking voicemail messages and review 50 to 100 new e-mails.
I’ll spend almost half the day on the phone discussing issues related to compounding pharmacy with everyone from Members of Congress, Hill staff, agency officials, other professional organizations to IACP members. These issues may include: FDA policies; DEA policies; and legislative proposals which could potentially impact the practice of compounding pharmacy and general practice issues.
You never know what’s going to be on your plate and you have to be willing and ready to roll with the punches. In addition to attending regularly scheduled Hill appointments, I’m always prepared to go the Hill at a moment’s notice if there is an immediate need to address Congressional activity or potential Congressional inquiries.
Congressional staffers will want to talk about current issues just as much as those in our compounding arena. “Where does IACP stand on online pharmacy safety legislation? What do IACP members think about dietary supplement legislation or requirements for veterinarian scripts? What are the pros and cons of certain positions? How does IACP feel about recent reports of drug shortages and how can IACP members help?”
Sometimes answering those questions requires doing further in-depth research and also may entail discussing policy with other pharmacy organizations to gauge their positions.
My afternoons are often spent digesting the same newspapers that serve Congress, including Congressional Quarterly’s Congress Daily, Roll Call and The Hill. Additionally, I regularly monitor compounding pharmacy issues in the news and regulatory activity which could potentially impact compounding pharmacists. You have to pore through these materials, as you never know what tidbit you may see that could substantially impact your industry.
In addition to legislative and regulatory work, you can go to two, three social events every morning and night to do what we lobbyists call “grip and grin.” This time investment really is critical in order to obtain one-on-one face time with the legislators who directly impact policies affecting our industry.
All of this activity exponentially goes up during the election cycle. In D.C., we call the lead-in to a congressional, senatorial or presidential election, the, “silly season.” Candidates and their advisors will ask IACP to provide them with compounding policy positions, set up one-on-one meetings, provide key contacts and names of associated individuals and most importantly for these candidates, endorse them and contribute money.
Immediately after the elections, my role usually morphs into ensuring I know the new Congressional committee chairs; who has new rankings in the committees; who are our current contacts with in the rankings and whether I need to establish new in-roads with certain offices.
After the elections, I also work to identify the members of Congress and staffers who potentially would be supportive to IACP policies as well as those who may oppose them. You’ve got to identify potential allies and foes and then try to develop a strategy as to how to most effectively proceed. For many, these tasks may seem mundane and tedious, but after all these years, they still feed the adrenaline rush that empowers lobbyists like myself.
Perhaps my favorite time of the year is in June when IACP’s Compounders on Capitol Hill (CCH) rolls into town. This event truly is an amazing opportunity for our IACP members to meet face-to-face with their state representation. I can tell you that what you do there really does make a difference. I urge you to attend this year’s CCH 2012 event, June 23-26, 2012, the 18th time we will join together and take our compounding issues to the Hill. www.iacprx.org/CCH