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Bill Giving California Pharmacists More Duties Goes To Governor

Aired 9/17/13 on KPBS News.

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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Avatar for user 'mohammad ashori'

mohammad ashori | September 17, 2013 at 9:10 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

I think it's a great time to start really utilizing our pharmacists who are highly educated in their field to actually provide higher level of care. However, in my experience a lot of pharmacists are comfortable continuing in their role and many have poor knowledge of actual medication. It has been a rare experience for me to speak to a pharmacist regarding medication choice and get helpful information. I do believe that these are skills that pharmacists learn in pharmacy school but perhaps unlearn it because of lack of use. If pharmacy schools and jobs demand this skill set then I think pharmacists will be an even more invaluable part of the health care system.

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Avatar for user 'muckapoo1'

muckapoo1 | September 17, 2013 at 9:50 a.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

You said what, Mo? I must need more meds if I am to understand.

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Avatar for user 'NCOD'

NCOD | September 17, 2013 at 4:05 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

It's not preventative medicine if you cut the "preventative annual exam"... pap smear for cervical cancer and STD screening that the doctor performs on sexually active females out of the equation. I say NO to pharmacists dispensing without patients having an examination first. It's doing the patient an injustice. Sure, they may not become pregnant, but the reason you go for your annual to get your birth control Rx is to get your pap smear and STD screening, both of which are equally important.

I'm a physician and I've had plenty of cases where a pharmacist changed my Rx to something that didn't work because they didn't have the proper training. What happens is the patient complains "This is too expensive, do you have something cheaper?" The pharmacist says, "Oh sure, this is an antibiotic, I'll just give you a generic one." However, they didn't examine the patient and they don't know that we picked a really strong antiobiotic to fight a specific pathogen (infection) for a reason. The patient comes back to us no better off and wonders why the medicine didn't work. This is a bad bill and a bad idea for healthcare. If you need a prescription, you need an examination by your doctor.

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