We told you recently about pending legislation in Virginia that would enable pharmacists to prescribe—not just dispense—medications for certain conditions, such as strep throat and influenza. Now comes news that Florida is working on legislation, Senate Bill 714, that would empower pharmacists to essentially conduct a primary care provider-style patient visit for flu. If it becomes law, a patient with flu-like symptoms could go to a drugstore, be given an instant lab test in the store, be diagnosed with flu on the spot, and receive a prescription from the pharmacist. Not surprisingly, medical societies oppose the idea. One obvious concern is that such a law would enable pharmacists to perform tasks well beyond their training and expertise. (That would likely turn into a requirement at the store level, given the retailer’s desire to capture revenue in as many ways as possible.) Further, as we’ve also shared, many pharmacists already say they’re overburdened with too-long workdays of not only filling prescriptions, but also counseling patients, administering flu shots, being vigilant drug for interactions, complying with payer formularies, conducting HIV tests, and merchandising OTC products. Adding physician-like responsibilities is not likely to result in a safer, more stable pharmacy experience.
Is Florida Looking to Cast Pharmacists as Primary Care Providers?