Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration is seeking to fast-track rules that would potentially expand the health care services that pharmacists are authorized to provide.
The move worries some members of a physician-licensing board.
Ed Tellechea, general counsel of the Florida Board of Medicine, told members of a committee on Wednesday that “there is pressure” to finalize rules by Aug. 1 to proceed with a new law that would allow certain pharmacists to test patients for flu and streptococcus, as well as to treat patients with chronic illnesses.
“The governor’s office would like them (the Board of Pharmacy) to get working on this right away and to get a product as soon as possible, because they want to have the pharmacists available to be able to assist in dealing with the current public-health crisis, and when it flares up again in the fall,” Tellechea said.
His remarks came after comments from Board of Medicine Vice Chairman Hector Vila, who believes the Board of Pharmacy should initially draft narrow rules that could be expanded further down the road. Vila also said that he wants the rules to specifically preclude pharmacists from being able to test and treat patients for coronavirus.
“This is a pretty big change. And I would move slowly and not try to cut any corners,” said Vila, who is a Tampa-area doctor. “Move very slowly, very deliberately, and then it’s more likely to end up a success.”
Thank you @GovRonDeSantis for your swift and decisive action in signing the APRN legislation the same day it passed. Your decision means access to care for millions of Americans. A special thank you to a leader and friend @BillGalvano for the support and leadership. pic.twitter.com/r2eOWsxSy7
— Jose Oliva (@RepJoseOliva) March 11, 2020
At the request of Republican House Speaker Jose Oliva, of Miami Lakes, the Florida Legislature on March 11 passed the measure (HB 389) expanding the authority of pharmacists. DeSantis signed the bill into law the same day.
Under the law, certain pharmacists will be authorized to enter “collaborative pharmacy practice agreements” with doctors that allow pharmacists to treat and manage patients.
Those pharmacists will be authorized to treat participating physicians’ patients for conditions including: arthritis; asthma; chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases; Type 2 diabetes; human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; obesity; or “any other chronic condition adopted in rule.”
To enter into the collaborative pharmacy practice agreements, pharmacists must either have doctorates in pharmacy or must have practiced at least five years and have clear and unencumbered licenses. They must also take an additional 20-hour course.
The law requires the Board of Pharmacy to develop a set of new rules in order to carry out the changes, including a list of drugs that pharmacists may prescribe. The rules also must include guidelines for advising patients when to seek follow-up care from doctors.
There is no word at this time on when the rules could go into effect, and at what level.