The Iowa House of Representatives recently approved a bill to make it easier for rural towns throughout the state to set up telepharmacies. If the bill becomes law, the state pharmacy board could routinely approve telepharmacies instead of handling them as limited pilot projects, and up to 80 Iowa communities would be eligible.
Courtesy: Shutterstock/wave break mediaThe companion bill in the Senate, Senate File 453, was passed last spring by the Iowa Senate and was unanimously approved by the House. The bill now heads back to the Senate, where it will likely be approved.
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"It's a great bill because there are communities that want this that are underserved," Rep. Brian Best (R-Glidden) told The Des Moines Register.
Iowa legislators don’t intend to provide competition with other pharmacies or pharmacy chains. In fact, legislators amended the legislation to mandate that telepharmacies couldn't be set up within 10 miles of an existing pharmacy.
"The whole bill was made for places where there's a pharmacy need,” Glidden said. “So, that's really all we want to do with this bill…take care of those communities."
While nearly 80 Iowa communities are eligible, those that are not could seek a waiver from the state pharmacy board.
One of the eligible communities is Zearing, which has around 550 residents and has been testing telepharmacy for three years. NuCara’s Zearing store fills around 800 prescriptions a month, less than half the minimum needed to justify a pharmacist behind the counter, Brett Barker, vice president of the NuCara chain, told The Des Moines Register.
Telepharmacy customers step up to a kiosk and use the phone handset and video screen to talk to a NuCara pharmacist.