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    Prescribing rights: Worth it?

    Pharmacists are now recognized as providers nearly everywhere—now that they have the status, what does it mean?


    Community pharmacy

    The state of Washington is one of the most progressive in the nation in terms of giving pharmacists prescribing authority, said MacLean. “There is an entire collection of medications used to treat minor ailments” that pharmacists may prescribe under protocol in the independent setting (Figure 2). Generally, the protocols are tailored to the demographics of a particular pharmacy. For example, a pharmacy in an area with a high population of children would include pink eye and strep throat; Washington state pharmacy examplesFig. 2those disease states might not be included in an area with a large geriatric population.

    “In all of my experience, my patients have appreciated the ability to receive care from the community pharmacist. Patients are willing to come see us. They can come see us after hours, receive assessments, and avoid the emergency room. And in areas where there is a physician shortage, the pharmacist can fill the void,” said MacLean. She noted that a pediatrician had brought her own two children into the pharmacy to be tested and eventually treated for strep throat.

    Related article: Are community pharmacists an endangered species?

    MacLean said that pharmacy has to evolve, and cannot let workload be a challenge. That prevents the pharmacist from providing patient care, she said. “The filling of prescriptions is secondary to taking care of patients and improving outcomes. Pharmacy must move in this direction. And in order to be effective, we need to surround ourselves with the right tools: technicians, technology, and software solutions,” said MacLean.

    NCPA’s Day said that the dispensing function will still be the core function of pharmacists, but the role will evolve so that pharmacists will focus not on “counting by five,” but on patient care and patient safety.” Mac Lean agreed. “Dispensing must be done and done very carefully. Pharmacy needs to assure that the right medicine is taken appropriately. The medicine works when the pharmacist does due diligence to ensure the best outcome. The future of pharmacy is about the value of the patient; keeping the patient healthy.” 

    CVS officials declined to comment for this story. Representatives from Walgreens and Kroger did not respond to requests from Drug Topics. 

    Kathleen Gannon Longo
    Kathleen Gannon Longo is a Contributing Editor.


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    • Anonymous
      "Workload challenge" should be addressed as deplorable working conditions. "Operating at the top of our education level" when we can't even get the basics right is absurd. The study in Chicago that showed we don't even address the most basic drug interactions should have been a wake up call but what does Pharmacy do...add more to the plate to try to stay relevant. Our "profession" is notorious for providing all the services...Patient counseling..MTM...Vaccinations..Medicare-D guidance...while never addressing staffing or even renumeration to the Pharmacist that provides these services. Now we are talking about prescriptive authority which will have protocols that we will have to attest to even though we won't have time to adequately do it properly. Shame on the pharmacy leadership that does not take into account the working environment that 95% of us work in!
    • UBM User
      We need to "get real" :: We ALL know that there are too many drugs being prescribed. We ALL know that this is detrimental to the health of our patients. Why on earth would we want to become a piece of that Problem? {The same goes for vaccinations but that's a subject for another time. We've already stepped into that cowpie. What we need is the ability to UNPRESCRIBE. To take people OFF OF MEDICATIONS that they have been carelessly (yes, I said "carelessly") prescribed. A good example is the ACA / ACVP initiative called "Ditch Your PPI". That is a program to get people OFF of proton pump inhibitors because they are overprescribed, useless, and cause osteoporosis, hypymagnesemia, pneumonia, depression, B-vitamin depletion, and mineral depletion AT A MINIMUM! This is where we need to put the fulcrum. We would be heroes. Not only to our patients but to the government and to insurance companies. Let's get this started and quit talking about prescribing privileges. OMG. ~ mark Burger, PharmD Health First! Pharmacy and Compounding Center, Windsor, CA 95492