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Legislation could allow pharmacists to test and treat for influenza and streptococcus.

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Florida TaxWatch backs point-of-care flu testing

Bill would allow pharmacists to test and treat conditions.

Florida TaxWatch came out in favor of a legislation allowing point-of-care testing and treatment for strep throat and the flu.

“This has the potential to allow better patient experiences, improve the quality of care, and most importantly, encourage patients to take greater control of their medical conditions,” said Dominic M. Calabro, president and CEO for Florida TaxWatch.

The group conducted an independent analysis of legislation (HB 111) filed by state Rep. Rene Plasencia, a Titusville Republican. The bill would allow pharmacists testing for influenza and streptococcus to both diagnose and treat conditions at pharmacies. Only point-of-care tests already approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would be allowed.

“Point of care testing is cost effective and provides results quickly,” Plasencia said.

Florida TaxWatch researchers agree, and released a full analysis of the bill.

Calabro said that from the patient’s perspective, pharmacists are both easily accessible and trusted medical professionals.

“Permitting point of care testing in pharmacies will not only save Floridians money, but it will also save the state money when you factor in insurance coverage for state employees,” he said.

“This is a real opportunity to save hardworking taxpayers millions, and that is why Florida TaxWatch believes this is worthy of consideration.”

The group’s report concludes pharmacists have the medical knowledge to treat patients. They have also shown a willingness to provide care immediately.

“This type of service has the potential to support the antimicrobial resistance agenda by reducing unnecessary antibiotic use and inappropriate antibiotic consumption,” reads the group’s analysis.

State Sen. Jeff Brandes, a St. Petersburg Republican, sponsored Senate companion legislation (SB 300). He said getting deadly diseases like the flue treated as quickly as possible the motivate the bill’s passage.

“The 2017-18 influenza season was one of the deadliest in more than four decades,” he said.

“Making point of care testing cost-effective and easily accessible will get Floridians the help they need as soon as possible.”

But similar legislation proposed by Brandes died in committee last year.

Physicians opposed the legislation at the time, saying tests by pharmacists would effectively provide diagnoses over the counter. Doctors say pharmacists lack the training to do that, and that flu tests are only 60-percent effective.

Brandes and Plasencia both say getting the fiscal hawk behind the public health issue should be helpful.

Written By

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at jacobogles@hotmail.com.

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