California bill expands the role of pharmacists

New laws in California are changing the roles of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians in the state.The roles and responsibilities of pharmacists and pharmacy technicians has increased greatly over the past few years as states try to find ways to provide all of the necessary health care services to their residents. In California, that evolution was recently furthered with the approval of SB 493 by the state assembly and senate.

Purpose of SB 493

The bill, written by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, will give pharmacists more autonomy in how they run their practices, including the ability to initiate certain prescriptions and provide advice and consultation, according to California Healthline.1 It’s yet another part of California’s efforts to provide expanded health services in a variety of areas.

“Pharmacists are vastly underutilized for the amount of training and education they receive,” Hernandez said in a statement. “The pharmacy profession can play and will play an important role in this expansion mode, and they’ll need an expansion of their scope of service to enable them to do so.”

Relieving the burden

California’s health care system has become overburdened, which will likely be further exacerbated as millions more residents become eligible for health insurance in 2014.2 SB 493 is just one part of the state’s effort to deal with all those new patients.

“It is no secret that our state’s health care system is greatly overburdened,” Carmella Gutierrez, president of Californians for Patient Care, told California Healthline. “This legislation partially addresses the problem by allowing qualified, educated and trained pharmacists to provide more primary care services and to practice in more settings, under the full extent of their licenses.”

Importance of SB 493

The potential impact of the bill will be felt across the board, from patients to pharmacists to pharmacy technician programs, as pharmacy professionals in California will soon have the ability to provide care in ways they have never before been able to.

Pharmacists and pharmacy technicians have long been more than simply the people who pass out medication, they can be counselors, health advisers and a shoulder to lean on for the sick and suffering. SB 493 just goes further in codifying those roles in law.

As pharmacy student Lauren Epperson told the Pharmacy Times, “A great pharmacist needs to be extremely knowledgeable about medication, but they also need to be personable and approachable so that patients feel comfortable discussing their health and medications.”3

Planning to work in California when she completes her education, Epperson is also a big supporter of SB 493 because of its bestowal of provider status on pharmacists.

1 Gorn, David, “Pharmacist Practice Bill Going to Governor,” California Healthline, Sept. 16, 2013. http://www.californiahealthline.org/capitol-desk/2013/9/pharmacist-practice-bill-going-to-governor
2 Staff, “Providers: Bill Will Fall Short of Curbing Calif. Physician Shortage,” California Healthline, Sept. 17, 2013. http://www.californiahealthline.org/articles/2013/9/17/providers-bills-will-fall-short-of-curbing-calif-physician-shortage
3 Simone, Aimee, “Leading the Way to Improved Care,” Pharmacy Times, Sept. 17, 2013. http://www.pharmacytimes.com/publications/issue/2013/September2013/Leading-the-Way-to-Improved-Care

Join the conversation