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Senate committee approves ATM pill bill

The legislation would expand the use of prescription drug kiosks.

Senators on a health panel unanimously advanced Tuesday a proposal for pharmacies to dispense prescription drugs through an exterior automated kiosk.

The measure (SB 708), filed by St. Johns County Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, next goes to the Senate Innovation, Industry, and Technology Committee. Palm Beach County Democrat Rep. Matt Willhite has filed the bills House companion (HB 59).

Automated kiosks are already used to dole out medication in long-term care facilities, hospices, and prisons. However, these expand possibilities beyond institutionalized populations into, for example, rural areas.

Dispensaries could not distribute controlled substances through the kiosk. Medical cannabis is issued through an order rather than a prescription and therefore could not be dispensed.

Records are going to be held for each transaction — each drug that is dispensed — the identity of the pharmacist, the verification of the accurate dosage and the directions,” the Senator said.

And while a pharmacist must still control the system from the inside, the bill outlines that customers should be able to confidentially access the kiosk from the buildings exterior.

Committee chair Sen. Gayle Harrell, a Stuart Republican, worked with Hutson to on an amendment to clarify that Schedule I substances are not permitted in the kiosk.

I think we have a very good bill here, Harrell said. Thank you very much for doing it. I think its going to make a difference with patients.

Representatives gave the unanimous approval to the House version in a November House Health Quality Subcommittee meeting. That version will go to the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Wednesday.

Officials from AARP, Walgreens and Ascension St. Vincent’s in Jacksonville were among those indicating their support for the proposal. The Florida Retail Association and Americans for Prosperity also gave their support.

Hutson filed SB 708 in October while Willhite filed HB 59 in August.

Written By

Renzo Downey covers the Florida Legislature for Florida Politics. After graduating from Northwestern University in 2019, Renzo began his reporting career in the Lone Star State, covering state government for the Austin American-Statesman. Shoot Renzo an email at renzo@floridapolitics.com and follow him on Twitter @RenzoDowney.

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