California pharmacists nearing provider-status

September 20, 2013

Pharmacists throughout California are a signature away from being able to give a full range of immunizations, as well as dispensing birth control pills and certain medications for international travel.

Pharmacists throughout California are a signature away from being able to give a full range of immunizations, as well as dispensing birth control pills and certain medications for international travel.

Earlier this month, a pharmacist provider-status bill passed both houses of the California State Assembly. The bill has been delivered to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has until October 13 to act. If the governor signs it, the law would take effect in January.

“The California Pharmacists Association (CPHA) is pleased that the California State legislature has recognized the added value that pharmacists can play in providing expanded access to care to patients in California communities,” said Jon Roth, CPHA CEO. “This legislation, SB 493, is an acknowledgment that the education, training, and skills of pharmacists go far beyond providing medications to patients.”

Under present law, pharmacists in California can only give flu shots and emergency contraception. The new law would authorize pharmacists to administer drugs and biological products. It would also expand the duties pharmacists in California can legally perform, including furnishing self-administered hormonal contraceptives, prescribing smoking cessation drugs, and prescribing medications not requiring a diagnosis that are recommended for international travelers.

"Pharmacists are vastly underutilized for the amount of training and education they receive," said Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina), who sponsored the bill. "The pharmacy profession can play and will play an important role in this expansion mode, and they'll need an expansion of their scope of service to enable them to do so."

The new law also establishes board recognition and training requirements for an advanced practice pharmacist with expanded functions. Pharmacists would also gain the authority to order and interpret tests to monitor and manage efficacy and toxicity of drug therapies.