California Board of Pharmacy Addresses Shortage
A national pharmacist shortage is creating "intense" competition between retail pharmacies, drug companies and medical groups, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. According to a recent Health Resources and Services Administration report, California had about 7,000 vacant pharmacist positions this time last year, and this shortage will continue to worsen "without major changes in pharmacy practice and education." Pharmacy schools have a limited ability to fill these vacancies, the Business Journal reports. California's four pharmacy schools produce between 550 and 600 graduates per year, "far below demand in the workplace."
The California Board of Pharmacy has formed a task force to evaluate the shortage and determine solutions. Some of the proposals devised by the task force include:
- Establishing reciprocal agreements with other states to "make it easier" for out-of state pharmacists to get licensed in California;
- Allowing pharmacies to employ more pharmacy technicians by raising the enforced ratio to two technicians to one pharmacist;
- Implementing new technologies to speed processing of prescriptions and drug dispensing; and
- Offering a "universal insurance card" that would make it easier for pharmacists to determine prices patients pay for drugs based on their insurance coverage.
Patricia Harris, executive officer at the California Board of Pharmacy, said, "We've heard the solutions over and over again. Now we need to hear them together, why they will work and what they cost." The CBA task force plans to release a report on the shortage by the end of June (Robertson/Johnson, Sacramento Business Journal, 2/12).
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