States Move To Allow Pharmacists To Prescribe More Treatments

News Room

Several states are expanding pharmacists’ scope of practice to allow them to prescribe amid a shortage of primary care physicians and other healthcare workers.

As state legislative sessions wrap up for the summer, several states are expanding “scope of practice” to allow pharmacists to prescribe and provide more medical care amid a push by independent pharmacists as well as big retail pharmacy operators including Amazon, CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart.

As one example, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker earlier this month signed into law healthcare legislation that included an amendment to the state Pharmacy Practice Act that allows pharmacists to test, screen and then prescribe for influenza, Covid-19, group A Streptococcus, also known as strep throat, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), adult-stage head louse and “health conditions identified by a statewide public health emergency,” the legislation says.

“This is a positive step forward that increases access to timely care for common illnesses like COVID-19, flu, and strep throat,” said Dr. Vin Gupta, Chief Medical Officer of Amazon Pharmacy.

“By enabling pharmacists to prescribe treatments for these conditions, patients can get the medications they need quickly, and conveniently,” Gupta added. “This new (Illinois) law recognizes the valuable role pharmacists play on the frontlines of health care delivery. Amazon Pharmacy applauds efforts to utilize the full clinical expertise of pharmacists to improve patient access and outcomes.”

The National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA) says pharmacists in 47 states can test and treat by writing a prescription though it varies on what prescriptions they can prescribe. “In about 34 states pharmacists can do it independently without a collaborative agreement or prescription,” a spokeswoman with NCPA said.

The retail pharmacy lobby is winning over state lawmakers in part by noting the U.S. could “see a shortage of over 55,000 primary care physicians,” NCPA director of state government affairs, Joel Kurzman wrote to the Illinois House of Representatives Health Care Availability & Access Committee. “In Illinois there are 268 areas that are designated as health professional shortage areas. There are thousands of pharmacists in Illinois who are ready to provide valuable healthcare services to these communities that have limited access to care.”

Supporters of the legislation say it will increase access to healthcare for patients, particularly those who don’t have a “medical home” in urban and rural areas suffering a shortage of primary care doctors, pharmacists and other healthcare workers amid an ongoing U.S. labor shortage.

“It’s expanding convenience and affordable access to basic care,” said Rob Karr, president and chief executive officer of the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, which lobbied for the legislation and includes independent pharmacists and big retail drugstores among its membership. “Everybody in the healthcare industry has workforce shortages. The only way to get basic care is to spread that care over the widest possible base so the legislation should free up primary care physicians for more serious cases.”

Read the full article here

Share this Article
Leave a comment