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Bill Giving California Pharmacists More Duties Goes To Governor

Need a tetanus shot or birth control? You may be able to get both from a pharmacist beginning next year without going to a doctor first.

California pharmacists could provide vaccines and birth control pills under a measure that's been sent to the governor. Both houses of the state Legislature unanimously approved the bill to expand pharmacists' scope of practice.

Currently, without a doctor's order, California pharmacists can only offer flu shots and emergency contraception.

Under the bill, pharmacists could give the full range of childhood and adult immunizations without a prescription. They could also dispense birth control pills, and certain medications for international travel, including anti-malaria drugs.

Jon Roth, CEO of the California Pharmacists Association, said his members shouldn't be restricted to filling prescriptions.

"They have an extensive amount of knowledge and clinical experience upon their graduation today, that they may not have had 25, 30 years ago," Roth explained. "And we really wanted to take advantage of an opportunity for pharmacists to operate at the top of that scope of training."

Roth adds the bill would give consumers greater access to care and could ease the burden on primary care doctors.

The California Medical Association, which represents some 37,000 physicians, took no position on the measure.

If the governor signs the measure into law, it will take effect next January.

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