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Pharmacists, a note of caution as role expands.

Just a few decades ago, the role of the local pharmacist was basically to fill prescriptions. These medical professionals could discuss the benefits and risks of various medications, potential concerns for interactions with other medications, and, if we were lucky, give us tips on how to get over a seasonal bug.

In recent years, that role has expanded and lawmakers throughout the country are looking to continue building this profession out even further.

How has the pharmacist’s role changed?

In some states, pharmacists can test for illness like Strep and COVID, in others they have limited diagnostic and prescription authority. In all, discussions about expansion of these as well as an addition of expanded privileges are ongoing.

Although a shift towards giving pharmacists more responsibilities was present prior to COVID, the pandemic catalyzed the shift. Advocates argue this shift towards increased availability of these services using the local pharmacy allows for those in more rural locations to access care. Critics voice concern that the move oversteps the pharmacist’s role potentially putting patients at risk of harm and that these services should be overseen by a physician.

A middle ground may provide the answer. Some states are looking to balance increased privileges for pharmacists while working in collaboration with a larger medical team, including physicians. This option could provide patients with the best of both worlds.

How does a pharmacist navigate these changes?

The profession is in the midst of an evolution. Although exciting, it is important to navigate with care. A misstep can result in a regulatory violation or put your professional license at risk.

Attorney John Rivas is responsible for this communication.