Pills from an ATM? It’s the Governor’s call now
Image by Ajale from Pixabay.

No opioids, but antibiotics eyed for easier access.

Gov. Ron DeSantis will decide if a bipartisan proposal for automated kiosks to dispense pharmaceuticals, such as antibiotics, will become law.

SB 708/HB 59, filed by Sen. Travis Hutson of St. Johns County and Rep. Matt Willhite of Palm Beach County, contemplated “automated pharmacy systems” — dispensing kiosks — for “community pharmacy”-styled drugstores.

Ultimately, the House version from Willhite, a Democrat, was taken up by the Senate and passed during the 2020 Legislative Session.

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.

If expanded to community pharmacy settings, the bill contemplates dispensing kiosks for outpatients outside the physical store itself. Substances dispensed would not include controlled substances such as opioids.

Kiosks would have to be under the “supervision and control” of a pharmacist, who would be responsible for tracking transactions. Machines would be loaded by pharmacists, pharmacy techs, and interns, should the bill be signed into law.

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

Current statute regarding institutional automated pharmacies details the parameters.

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

“The Florida-licensed pharmacist shall be required to develop and implement policies and procedures designed to verify that the medicinal drugs delivered by the automated dispensing system are accurate and valid and that the machine is properly restocked,” current state law says.

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 the legislation potentially would stretch the organizational members too thin.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


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