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The Pharmacist Who Says No to Drugs

Armon B. Neel Jr. shows patients — and their doctors — the way to better health with fewer medications

Neel will be back in Griffin before suppertime, where he’ll finish the written report that he promised Ruby Gifford before leaving for a weeklong vacation with his wife, children and grandchildren. He doesn’t yet know that Gifford’s physician will be angered by her decision to seek out his help and will refuse even to read Neel’s 17-page report.

So Armon Neel soon will help Gifford find a new doctor. He isn’t one to pass the buck.

"I’ve always gotten along well with old people," he says. "They’ve always been special to me."

A mischievous smile breaks. "And I really like ’em now, ’cause I’m one of ’em."

Postscript: Ruby Gifford died in September 2010 at age 92, six years after Neel helped her find a new doctor. The nursing home resident with advanced Parkinson’s died in early 2011 at age 81. All the other people in the article are living as of July 2011. As part of his work, Neel still fills out pink suggestion slips for each nursing home resident whose charts he reviews; he recently passed the 400,000 mark.

Bill Hogan is a journalist and producer with AARP.org. He and Armon B. Neel Jr., PharmD., CGP, are co-authors of Are Your Prescriptions Killing You?, to be published next year by Atria Books. Neel and Hogan also collaborate on the advice column Ask the Pharmacist (see below).

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