Erin Mershon at STAT News recently spent some time shadowing the pharmacist who provides prescription drugs to many members of Congress.
Her story, which you can read in full here, includes a relatively alarming passage in which the pharmacist casually mentions that some members apparently have Alzheimer’s:
Mike Kim, the reserved pharmacist-turned-owner of the pharmacy, said he has gotten used to knowing the most sensitive details about some of the most famous people in Washington.
“At first it’s cool, and then you realize, I’m filling some drugs that are for some pretty serious health problems as well. And these are the people that are running the country,” Kim said, listing treatments for conditions like diabetes and Alzheimer’s.
“It makes you kind of sit back and say, ‘Wow, they’re making the highest laws of the land and they might not even remember what happened yesterday.'”
The current Congress is among the oldest in history, and more than half of the senators running for reelection in 2018 will be over 65. The average age in the House of Representatives is 57, and the average age in the Senate is 61.
The pharmacist doesn’t appear to have violated any patient privacy laws, which only restrict providing medical information that would identify a specific patient. (If he’d said which senator, for example, fills Alzheimer’s prescriptions, that would violate the law.) Still, he gives a surprisingly frank and unsettling insight into conditions that could affect judgment, memory, and decision-making.
Read the entire story here.
Update: After this story went viral, the pharmacist interviewed provided an additional statement clarifying his remarks. “I am not aware of any member that actually has Alzheimer’s and would certainly not disclose any such information if I did know.” He added, “patient privacy is a very serious matter that I am committed to upholding.”
He said that he was “[s]peaking very broadly about disease states that the general American population have and that it also applies to everyone including members of the U.S. House and Senate since they are also people just like you and I.”