Bill would allow pharmacists to treat flu, strep throat

Sirois_Pigman Rapid Flu Test 022119
The bills could save patients a trip to the doctor

Those who come down with the flu or strep throat would be able to avoid a trip to the doctor if a proposal from Sen. Jeff Brandes, Rep. Rene Plasencia and Rep. Tyler Sirois gets some traction.

SB 300 and HB 111 would give pharmacists the authority to provide point-of-care testing and treatment for Influenza and Streptococcus, saving the infirm from trying to squeeze in a doctor appointment before the treatment window flies by for prescription drugs such as Tamiflu.

“Eighty thousand people died and hundreds of thousands were hospitalized because of influenza last winter in the U.S.,” said Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican. “This legislation is a no-brainer.

“With advancements in technology in the medical field, comes the time to advance the way services are provided to Florida patients.  It is time that we allow pharmacists — with the notification of the patient’s primary care physician — to test and treat Floridians for the flu, as well as strep.

“Both are very contagious illnesses that could be stopped faster if we increase the access points for diagnosis and treatment.”

The idea isn’t a new one — the news release announcing the proposals notes fifteen states other states, most of them west of the Mississippi, already allow pharmacists to treat the common yet highly contagious viruses.

“As a teacher and a coach, I understand the need to increase Floridians’ access to care by allowing point-of-care testing and treatment for Influenza and Strep,” said Plasencia, an Orlando Republican.

“That is why I have filed HB 111 to allow pharmacists to perform a simple swab test that provides results within 15 minutes or less.  Pharmacists can already perform much more complicated procedures; and, this good public policy simply allows Floridians to get diagnosed and treated for two illnesses that can rapidly spread if not quickly addressed.”

Sirois added that the measure would also give Floridians the ability to seek treatment 24 hours a day without forcing them to drive across town to the doc.

“Eighty-six percent of the population lives within five miles of a pharmacy and many are open 24-hours, I jumped at the opportunity to work with Representative Plasencia on HB 111,” the Cocoa Republican said.  “As a father of two, I know first-hand how quickly the flu and strep can come on.  By having another access point to be diagnosed and treated, Floridians can shorten the duration and severity of these illnesses.”

Avon Park Rep. Cary Pigman, a medical doctor who sponsorsed a prior version of the bill, provided an on-site demonstration of a rapid flu test at a Thursday press conference in the Capitol.

Florida law already allows pharmacists to provide a handful of treatments, such as give vaccines, that were once reserved for doctors and nurses so long as they are certified by the Florida Board of Pharmacy. The new bill would would put in place similar requirements, including 8 hours of continuing education courses.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


8 comments

  • Emily Davidson

    February 22, 2019 at 12:10 pm

    No one waits for a doctor appointment for flu or strep. They go to the ER. Be a little more realistic in your articles. Leave the practice of medicine to people who are educated in being a provider to those who are providers and the practice of filling prescriptions to those who went to school to do just that.

    • Claudia Davant

      February 22, 2019 at 12:42 pm

      So its better to force people with the flu to go to an EMERGENCY room which costs exponentially more and burdens ER docs who should be focused on emergency and life threatening situatiins? Wow. Thats not realistic at all.

    • Haley Smith

      February 22, 2019 at 6:18 pm

      Excuse me but if you didn’t go to pharmacy school then I do not think you can speak to what we learn. I find it VERY OFFENSE that you assume we went to school just to “fill prescriptions”. Also if you had any healthcare training whatsoever, you’d understand the unnecessary amount of money and time you are wasting in saying people should go to the ER for flu and strep! It’s called the EMERGENCY room for a reason!

    • Jasmine Smith

      February 23, 2019 at 9:31 am

      You do know that Pharmacists have medical degrees equal to that of doctors, right? Pharmacists do more than count pills. Many have jobs in which they are in ambulatory care where they are the main provider and educator about a patient’s medications and disease state.

      I hope you learned something today.

  • Rph

    February 22, 2019 at 4:09 pm

    Trust me, no pharmacist likes giving vaccinations. They should be reserved for nurses only. Do you see doctors giving vaccinations these days? The nurses do! Except some pediatricians. Pharmacists receive too much training to be only injecting vaccines into patients all day. We want to be more involved but sadly the laws, nurse practitioners, and physicians don’t think we should when nurse practitioners independently practice now! Doesn’t everyone see the disconnect here ? These NPs go through less schooling and training compared to pharmacists! Silly I’d say.

  • Tblairjr

    February 23, 2019 at 10:11 pm

    Upgrades in health care scope of practice initiatives are rooted in the political tactics of “educate….legislate.” The how and why, for or against, the resolution of a contested issue is played out against whoever best manuvers the resolution process. At the end of the day where you stand on an issue, is secondary to how many votes you secure for the matter at hand.

  • Crystal

    February 25, 2019 at 12:01 pm

    Pharmacists should be given provider status before given more responsibility we can’t be paid for without a protocol doctor. I don’t mind the expanding role, however, give us the status to go with our degree/expanding expertise.

  • geraldine marrocco APRN

    February 26, 2019 at 9:45 am

    Change the language in the Nurse Practice Act allowing APRN, nurse practitioners, independent practice in Florida. There are plenty of them who are able and ready to provide primary care on a 24 hour basis. They are educated to the scope to provide care in all primary care issues. Yes, even the flu!!

    Physicians should realize there are plenty of patients in Florida who need access to health care in a primary care setting and should not be wasting valuable health care dollars going to an emergency department. Pharmacists do a great job in managing pharmacological issues and are educating at a high level as well. They are not educated in primary care.

Comments are closed.


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