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Will Pharmacies Be Allowed to Put Profits Ahead of Patient Safety?

David W. Hodges
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Posted on May 05, 2013

A bill passed in the Florida House by a 101 to 16 vote would increase the number of pharmacy technicians each pharmacist could supervise. Currently, Florida pharmacies can petition the State Board of Pharmacy to get permission for each pharmacist to supervise up to three pharmacy technicians. While technicians can fill prescriptions, licensed pharmacists are ultimately responsible and sign off on all medications filled under their supervision.

The new bill, House Bill 671, would allow pharmacists to supervise up to six technicians at a time without approval from the State Board of Pharmacy. This bill is supported by the Florida Retail Federation, which includes representatives from CVS, Walgreens, and many other pharmacy chains.

 Critics of this bill believe that increasing the number of technicians behind the pharmacy counter would put patients at risk. If this bill gets signed into law, many feel that retail pharmacies would be putting profits ahead of patient safety. By hiring more low-paid technicians, who are not as well trained or experienced, pharmacies would be able to increase their profits. Sadly, this could come at a price, as it could cost a human life if a patient is a victim of a wrong medication mix-up.

Opponents of the bill, such as former CEO of the Florida Society of Health System Pharmacists Mike McQuone, believe that more medication errors would be the result. He said, “[t]hat increase could hurt patients,” as he sees pharmacists being disciplined for medication errors at Board of Pharmacy meetings every month under the current 3-to-1 pharmacy-technician ratio. Broward County Democrat Elaine Schwartz, said she wouldn’t support the increased ratio without requiring technicians to have more training.

The Senate version of this bill, House Bill 818, is still in committees, and our pharmacy error law firm will keep our clients updated on the outcome of this matter.

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