National R.Ph. licensure nears, predicts NABP head

May 8, 2006

Despite an over-my-dead-body opposition in some states, the day israpidly approaching when pharmacists will be able to obtain anational license valid in multiple states, predicted CarmenCatizone, R.Ph., executive director of the National Association ofBoards of Pharmacy.

The way pharmacists are licensed will change from the current state-based system to a national system within the next five years, Catizone told attendees at NABP's annual meeting in San Francisco last month. He added that it won't happen this year or next, but it is an issue pharmacy boards need to put on the table for discussion now.

"The reason for my prediction is that forces outside the state pharmacy boards are pushing this issue very hard and the concept itself is gaining acceptance outside the state boards of pharmacy," Catizone said. "This is one issue I know raises the blood pressure of people in this room and creates rumblings of 'over my dead body.' As difficult as it may be to talk about this, the executive committee thinks it's important to do so."

A national system of multistate licensure does not have to be bad news for state pharmacy boards, said Catizone. "NABP believes that if a multistate system were implemented, it would be done in such a way to increase-yes, increase-the financial support provided to the states," he said. "It would address the accountability of pharmacists and technicians, and even offer significant improvement on the present system for monitoring the licensure of pharmacists and technicians who have been disciplined or whose license has been revoked."

Since the concept is so new, the NABP executive committee is researching national licensure and the impact it would have on pharmacy boards and the current licensure system. "You, the member boards, have been quite clear and quite vocal in identifying the concerns you have with the concept that must be addressed before this revolutionary concept of a multistate system of licensure could be put in place," Catizone said. "The executive committee is keenly aware that the time is simply not right to implement a multistate system, but the executive committee also knows that the time to begin looking at the issue is now."

In other news from the annual meeting, outgoing chairperson and Massachusetts pharmacy board member Donna Horn discussed NABP's new Pharmacy Authenticated Licensure Service (PALS) for on-line pharmacies. PALS will check to verify that the Internet pharmacy and pharmacist-in-charge have valid licenses and that those licenses are in good standing. Organizations that will use PALS include on-line pharmacies and companies that provide on-line business directories or search engines. As on-line pharmacies receive PALS authentication, NABP will build a database of qualified pharmacies that can be accessed by the public. The pharmacy boards can also use the information to determine whether pharmacies operating in interstate commerce have appropriate licensure in each applicable jurisdiction.

The Pharmacy Curriculum Outcomes Assessment (PCOA) is another new program NABP is developing, said Dennis McAllister, chairman and Arizona pharmacy board member. The PCOA will be a resource for pharmacy schools in developing the metrics needed to respond to the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education's (ACPE) accreditation assessments and be a tool for schools to internally assess and improve their curriculums. It will provide pharmacy schools with more data than the NABP licensure exam, which is geared only to entry-level practice.

In other action at the meeting, delegates approved resolutions directing NABP to: