Opinion: The Future of Pharmacy

June 21, 2019
Philip Grauss, PharmD

Drug Topics Journal, Drug Topics June 2019, Volume 163, Issue 6

An open letter to the California State Board of Pharmacy.

A reality check is in order.

I recently attended a California State Board of Pharmacy meeting. On the agenda that day was a discussion of pharmacists’ old nemesis, Tech-Check-Tech, which was soundly defeated in 1996 by angry pharmacists.

At my last pharmacist position, the company had just brought in a new pharmacy system that conveniently scanned the drug bottle for accuracy and allowed technicians to handle all prescription fillings. The pharmacist would read the drug bottle label to see, for example, if the pills were a “lavender colored tablet with VT3M imprinted on the tablet.” If so, then it was OK to sell.

There has been a lot of talk that pharmacy schools will soon outnumber McDonald’s. My point is that pharmacists are not in that much demand and, if Tech-Check-Tech passes, there will be even less demand. 

With that being said, I believe it is time for the California Pharmacists Association (CPhA) to begin creating the next era for this great profession, and it starts with the increasing legalization of medical and recreational marijuana.

If the Marijuana Dispensary Law is passed in the upcoming election, California pharmacists must be ready to seize the opportunity to be at the forefront of this outstanding new occupation.

I recently attended a meeting with Fred Mayer, RPh, president of Pharmacists Planning Service, Inc. He and I met with Stephen Woods, chief of the Food and Drug and Radiation Safety division, and Asif Maan, PhD, chief of the Office of Medical Cannabis Safety of the California Department of Public Health. (Mayer is a member of the Editorial Advisory Board of Drug Topics.)

I left that meeting feeling that pharmacists have a huge opportunity to benefit from medical marijuana and cannabis, if all goes well with the Medical Cannabis Dispensary Program. This program will set up dispensaries in every county in California where medical marijuana is legalized. 

First, and foremost, a pharmacist must be available and partially responsible for the dispensing management of each dispensary. This would help serve the citizens of California by bringing forth medical information pertinent for the use of marijuana and cannabis products.  

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Who would be more qualified than a pharmacist to assure that each dispensary is run both legally and exactly as designated by state law? That pharmacist must qualify for this position in management by superior knowledge of the different types of marijuana products and the different diagnoses for which each type could be used. 

Each dispensary must be run with every legal responsibility fully covered by the person in charge of the dispensary. There will be a need for the dispensaries to regulate and avoid overuse of cannabis. 

With the projected sales of cannabis to eventually be in the billions of dollars, a very careful and thorough management team must be on top of this new business to prevent it from getting out of hand.

Again, I can think of no professionals better qualified than pharmacists to provide the services mandated by creation of these dispensaries.

I believe that the California State Board of Pharmacy should begin creating the new rules for this as an upcoming area of our profession.

I would like CPhA to be at the forefront of this new exciting opportunity for the profession of pharmacy.

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