State execs centralize on pharmacy policies – Washington Perspective

State execs centralize on pharmacy policies – Washington Perspective – Column

Ken Rankin

President Clinton isn’t the only important government official who’s scurrying back toward the middle of the road-influential state pharmacy regulators from across the country also appear to be drifting toward a more centrist position on issues affecting the practice of pharmacy.

That shift was apparent at last month’s meeting of the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy where delegates approved a series of resolutions that may signal more realistic regulation of the drug store industry in the future.

Case in point: the regulatory status-of pharmacy technicians. For years now, pharmacy board officials in many states have been resisting efforts by drug chains and progressive independents to secure rule changes facilitating the use of support personnel behind the prescription counter.

If there ever was a defensible basis for outlawing the use of pharmacy technicians to perform routine prescription department tasks, it evaporated earlier this year with the start of OBRA ’90. With the law’s new patient counseling responsibilities now taking up a significant part of the the pharmacist’s work day, the need for ancillary personnel to assist behind the prescription counter is greater than ever.

NAPB delegates recognized that and approved a series of resolutions supporting a new regulatory agenda that should enable pharmacists to make greater use of technicians.

Among other things, the NABP delegates called for the creation of a new system of pharmacy board registration of technicians in each state, as well as changes in the group’s Model State Pharmacy Practice Act to facilitate this registration process.

In addition, the state regulators endorsed a national system for verifying the qualifications of pharmacy technicians, and requirements that would hold pharmacists directly responsible for the actions of ancillary personnel working for them.

In a separate arena, the NABP’s members are expressing new reservations about the effort to establish a six-year Pharm. D curriculum as the sole entry-level degree for future pharmacists.

At last year’s NABP meeting, state pharmacy board executives voted to endorse the mandatory Pharm.D degree unconditionally. This year, the delegates back-pedaled. The group’s change of heart reflects a growing recognition among many pharmacy practitioners that they will not be “grandfathered” into the new degree.

In a resolution passed by the ’93 NABP delegates, the group’s continued support for the all-Pharm. D concept will be “contingent upon the establishment of an equitable mechanism for degree exchange. ” If pharmacy regulators and academics are unable to hammer out such a mechanism, the resolution directs NABP to “reconsider” its support for the universal Pharm.D.

To be sure, some of the resolutions adopted by the delegates will prove to be controversial. On the sticky issue of therapeutic substitution, for example, the state pharmacy board execs agreed to push for new laws and regulations to facilitate “therapeutic interchange by pharmacists in all practice settings.”

In addition, the NABP delegates endorsed the creation of a “third class of drugs”–former prescription products switched to OTC status which would be available only from a licensed pharmacist “with appropriate patient consultation in order to protect public health and safety.”

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