Opinion: Pharmacists know about all the drugs, so why can’t they prescribe them?

The neighborhood pharmacist has played an important role in American cities for centuries. People usually see their pharmacist more often than their family doctor. These professionals understand medications, dosages, and drug interactions.

If a doctor writes a wrong prescription to a patient, the pharmacist is the last line of defense to make sure the patient stays safe. This begs the question: why are these pharmacists not allowed to prescribe drugs in certain situations?

While some states allow pharmacists to prescribe specific drugs such as flu shots or contraceptives without requiring a script from a doctor’s office, these exceptions are not common. Restrictions on prescribing authority mean that pharmacists’ knowledge and skills are under-utilised.

In 2018, Idaho became the first state to allow pharmacists to prescribe a wide range of drugs, such as a rescue inhaler for asthma patients or an insulin pen for diabetics. In a new working paper, I discuss the effects of this important policy change in Idaho. conclusion:

“This expansion allows pharmacists to prescribe a limited set of drugs for minor or time-sensitive conditions, such as albuterol sulfate for asthma or insulin pens for patients with diabetes. Using prescriber data from Medicare Part D files , we found that approximately one additional Medicare beneficiary per pharmacist received albuterol sulfate and two received insulin pen needles after the extension of prescriptive authority to pharmacists. In total, this represents hundreds of patients who require time-to-time from pharmacies. Can access sensitive care, which is much more common in rural and underserved areas than specialized physicians.

Many rural and other communities do not have many health care options, with hospitals and specialist doctors sometimes hundreds of miles away. The federal government refers to them as health professional shortage areas, meaning there are insufficient numbers of physicians and other practitioners offering primary care services.

Yet all of these underserved areas have at least one pharmacy within a 10-mile drive. If states would allow pharmacists to prescribe basic medications to help patients manage routine and minor conditions, access to care in these communities would greatly increase.

Some would argue that pharmacists are not qualified to prescribe medicines. But let’s take a closer look at their credentials: To become a pharmacist, a practitioner needs to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy degree. form. D. Is a professional degree similar to Doctor of Dental Surgery or Doctor of Nursing Practitioners. A Pharm.D. To earn, an aspiring pharmacist must complete a four-year undergraduate curriculum, followed by four years of graduate-level coursework in biology, chemistry, and pharmacology. Licensed pharmacists must also stay up to date with the latest drugs, with most states requiring them to earn at least 30 hours of continuing education credit every two years.

Increasing access to essential medications closer to home is essential to keeping patients on track to manage their health needs, especially for asthma, diabetes or dozens of other common chronic conditions. It would save resources for health systems, keep more emergency room beds open, and reduce the financial burden on Medicare and Medicaid.

Idaho should serve as a prime example to policy makers in other states of how pharmacists can play a more empowered part of the medical care team, and how simple changes in regulation, such as allowing physicians Allowing you to use the full extent of your training. Help save lives.

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