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Rep. Rene Plasencia

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Bill empowering pharmacists passes muster

Bill would allow physicians and pharmacists to enter ‘collaborative practice.’

A bill empowering pharmacists to test and treat some conditions won support Tuesday in the House Health Quality Subcommittee.

And now, the legislation would also allow physicians and pharmacists to enter collaborative practice.

The version that was cleared combines bills filed by state Reps. Rene Plasencia and Cord Byrd. The combined legislation (HB 111) boasts the support of various pharmaceutical lobbies in the state.

Plasencia stressed that if the bill becomes law, it still leaves most decision-making power on patient treatment in the hands of a doctor.

“Pharmacists have the authority granted to them by physicians to fill prescriptions for that physician,” he said.

But Chris Nuland, a lobbyist for several physician associations including Florida Chapters of the American College of Physicians, said the bill will ultimately lead to medical diagnoses and treatments getting handed down by pharmacists.

The legislation allows involvement even for severe conditions like pulmonary disease and cardiac conditions.

“This increases the scope of practice for pharmacists,” he said. Ultimately, that will lead to less contact between patients and doctors. Florida patients deserve better.”

Originally, Plasencia’s bill just addressed allowing pharmacists to test for and treat influenza and strep. Florida TaxWatch last week issued a report supporting the bill as a benefit to consumers.

But Plasencia in advance of the committee hearing combined the legislation with a bill sponsored by Byrd, who also sits on the subcommittee.

Byrd said the legislation will benefit patients, particularly those living a distance from physicians or who need prescriptions at odd hours.

He used the example of a diabetic who runs out of insulin. If a physician empowers a particular pharmacist to refill that prescription, that helps consumers, he said. A patient could get their medication on a Friday night rather than waiting until Monday morning.

And Plasencia said the bill could especially help rural customers, who may have to drive a great distance for a doctor’s visit. Most live near a pharmacy.

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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