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Regulation of pharmacy techs in Florida goes into effect January 1, 2010.
Florida is the latest state to regulate pharmacy technicians. About 15,000 of the 40,000 pharmacy techs working in the state are currently certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.
The sunshine state's new requirements include registration with the state Board of Pharmacy by Jan. 1, 2010. By Jan. 1, 2011, all techs working in the state must have completed a board-approved training program that includes at least 1,500 hours of work under the supervision of a Florida-licensed pharmacist, or they must have obtained PTCB certification offered by either the PTCB or the competing Institute of Certified Pharmacy Technicians (ICPT).
"We have come to rely more and more on our techs for tasks that used to be done by pharmacists," he said. "We pharmacists are increasingly devoting our time and attention to patient treatment and care. The technician has to know that there are a lot of important care decisions that are taken as a part of the dispensing process. And pharmacists have to know that the technician has been trained to make those decisions appropriately."
Setting technician standards is a state issue, Catizone noted. The foundations of national technician standards are already in place. ASHP certifies tech training programs nationwide and PTCB administers certification testing nationally. It's up the individual states to incorporate those elements into their own pharmacy practice acts and regulations.
"It is no longer a question of if a state should move on technician regulation, but of when and how they will move," PTCB executive director Melissa Corrigan said. "Technicians are so key to the provision of appropriate health care today. For pharmacists to step up to medication therapy management and direct patient care, they need trained and qualified help."
According to the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, only eight states, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, lack tech regulation. The other 41 states and the District of Columbia all regulate techs.
"As recently as a few years ago, it was tough just getting the word 'technician' into state pharmacy acts," NABP executive director Carmen Catizone said. "Now there is significant movement toward some sort of regulation or licensure for technicians. The next step is uniform national standards for technician certification."
Both the American Pharmacists Association and the American Society of HealthSystem Pharmacists are pushing for uniform national certification standards.
"We are calling for techs to have completed an accredited training program and become certified," Doug Scheckelhoff, ASHP director, pharmacy practice sessions, said. "We have established uniform, mandatory certification as an advocacy priority."
Fifteen state affiliates are backing national certification standards, Scheckelhoff said, and more associations are considering the move.
"States are receptive to the idea that given the changing role of pharmacists in health care, there needs to be something more for technicians than on-the-job training," he said.
Texas was the first state to require certification for its 50,000 pharmacy techs. The requirement took effect in 2001, state Board of Pharmacy executive director Gay Dodson said.
"The Board felt strongly that we needed a better trained and better qualified person to deal with medications," she said.
Texas implemented registration requirements for pharmacy personnel in 2004. Initial registration included about 74,000 pharmacists and techs. The list has since grown to more than 80,000. "We would like to see similar standards nationally," Dodson said. "We would like to see reciprocity at the technician level."
PTCB has certified more than 310,000 techs since the program began in 1995.