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Pharmacy kiosks headed to Governor

Pill bill positioned for vote in Senate

Legislation by Wellington Democratic Rep. Matt Willhite (HB 59) to allow pharmacies to dispense certain prescription drugs through an ATM-like device was passed by the House Wednesday night.

The Senate bill (SB 708), by Palm Coast Republican Sen. Travis Hutson, was laid on the table in favor of the House version.

Willhite addressed Democratic Senators Friday, in an attempt to sell them on the devices and try to overcome some of the questions they had about whether the kiosks, which can cost up to $65,000, would crowd out independent pharmacies.

However, not all Democrats were sold.

Sen. Bill Montford, who wondered if the board was biased toward urban areas, was skeptical that it was the “right thing to do, especially for rural Florida.”

Automated kiosks, as Florida Politics reported previously, are already used to dole out medication in long-term care facilities, hospices, and prisons. For those outside of institutions, credit cards or cash may be used to tender payment.

However, this legislation would extend the kiosks’ use beyond institutionalized populations into, for example, rural areas or places where pharmacies are limited.

Concerns were expressed about these kiosks crushing community pharmacies, but Hutson noted the limited stock in the machines, with no controlled substances.

The kiosk would have to be under the “supervision and control” of a pharmacist, who would be responsible for tracking transactions.

Sen. Gayle Harrell wondered who would load the machines. Hutson answered, pharmacists, pharmacy techs, and interns all could do so.

Kiosks would be within buildings connected to an operating pharmacy. Harrell wanted to know where they might not be.

The bill language stipulates the measure is intended to “enhance the ability” of pharmacists, not to “limit” the practice of pharmacy in the state.

Statute regarding institutional automated pharmacies details the parameters for such dispensing mechanisms.

A “Florida-licensed pharmacist … need not be physically present at the site of the automated pharmacy system and may supervise the system electronically.”

Representatives from AARP, Walgreen’s, MedAvail, Americans for Prosperity, the Florida Retail Federation and the James Madison Institute supported the proposal in committee.

The Florida Pharmacy Association opposed the legislation, saying it would stretch its members too thin.

Written By

A.G. Gancarski has been a working journalist for over two decades. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at a.g.gancarski@gmail.com.

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