CPhA pushing bill to allow California pharmacists to perform OTC lab tests

April 17, 2012

California pharmacists would be able to better assist patients with increasingly more complicated over-the-counter assessment tests if the state?s Senate approves new legislation, according to Jon Roth, CEO, California Pharmacists Association.

California pharmacists would be able to better assist patients with increasingly more complicated over-the-counter (OTC) assessment tests if the state’s Senate approves new legislation, according to Jon Roth, CEO, California Pharmacists Association (CPhA).

Roth also said passage could result in big savings for the healthcare system.

Senate Bill (S.B.) 1481 would encompass glucose meters, cholesterol tests, and other tests to monitor diabetes or kidney function.

“In the nearly 20 years since state laboratory laws were enacted, the technology behind these tests has evolved significantly,” Roth said in an e-mail to Drug Topics. “The law hasn’t kept up, and pharmacists, who have a 4-year doctorate degree, can’t provide OTC laboratory tests without going through unnecessary steps and expense of contracting with a lab director.”

The federal Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) classify certain tests as “waived” if they are approved by FDA as safe to be performed with little or no oversight, Roth noted, allowing pharmacies to perform the waived tests without a laboratory director.

But California, New York, and Pennsylvania still require all facilities performing the CLIA waived tests to hire or contract with a laboratory director.

Proponents of S.B. 1481 argue that pharmacists are trained to perform these tests but the $100,000 cost of hiring a laboratory director prohibits many from providing the services to their patients.

“Passage of this legislation will result in easier access to safe, accurate, and economical tests-especially for uninsured and underinsured individuals-and an improved ability for pharmacists to provide meaningful feedback to their patients when providing drug consultations,” Roth said. “Patients who have suboptimal drug therapy, or who do not take their medications as they should, cost the healthcare system hundreds of billions of dollars every year.”