Panel will ask for a system that will allow pharmacists to practice across state lines

April 14, 2008

The National Governors Association will recommend that a cross-state cooperative pharmacist licensure system be created so that pharmacists can practice across state/territorial lines.

A panel advising the National Governors Association (NGA) will recommend shortly that a cross-state cooperative pharmacist licensure system be created to enable a pharmacist to practice across state/territorial lines.

"We must create a licensure system that, in a uniform manner, permits open pharmacist consultation and pharmacist-to-patient medication counseling across jurisdictional boundaries," stated the recommendation voted on by the State Alliance for E-Health at its February meeting in Washington, D.C. The alliance specifically declares that the license model "should not be considered a national licensure," but should be based on agreements and information sharing among the states that enable coordinated action. It is to be used for promoting e-health (which includes telepharmacy), say the recommendations, "but may serve as a model for other forms of pharmacy practice."

Darleen Bartz, Ph.D., a co-chair of the drafting task force, said, "Discipline, then, would take place in the state where the patient was, because (health professionals) would have to follow those laws for practice in that state, as well as working, then, with the state of residence where the license [originated from.]" So there should be good communication between the states, said Bartz, who is chief of the human resources section for the North Dakota Department of Health.

Bartz added that if a state-other than the state of original license-decided that a physician or pharmacist could no longer practice there, it would notify the state of license: "The state of license would then be marking that on their registry, but they would also have to look at that information and see if, for the purposes of their state, they were going to deny practice in their state, too."

The recommendations also say that states should provide financial support to pharmacy boards to ensure the funding necessary for activities, including "disciplinary investigations and actions, criminal background checks, development of secure infrastructure for credentials verification and interagency communication."

Commenting on this development, the National Community Pharmacists Association said, "We support the exclusive jurisdiction of pharmacy state boards over the licensure and practice of pharmacy in each state. We welcome discussing with the NGA electronic health infrastructure issues that are appropriate for the healthcare profession of pharmacy."

THE AUTHOR is a writer based in the Washington, D.C., area.