Delegates oppose giving pharmacists authority to prescribe drugs
■ The AMA voices concern that an Food and Drug Administration proposal could expand such rights.
By Alicia Gallegos — Posted July 2, 2012
Chicago The American Medical Association House of Delegates adopted policy that opposes federal and state legislation that allows pharmacists to prescribe medication absent supervision or a valid order by a doctor.
The policy, adopted at the AMA Annual Meeting, also opposes legislation that lets pharmacists dispense medication beyond the expiration of the original prescription.
The move stems from a public meeting in March at which the Food and Drug Administration sought feedback from health and physician organizations about expanding the range of over-the-counter drugs. Under the new paradigm, the agency would allow some drugs for chronic conditions, such as asthma and allergies, to be sold from the pharmacy counter without a prescription.
The model would allow pharmacists to determine patients’ needs for certain medications and help verify their self-diagnoses. The FDA has said the change would eliminate unnecessary doctor visits and connect more patients to needed medications.
But delegates are concerned that the model broadens pharmacists’ authority to dispense drugs and compromises patient safety.
“Should the FDA move forward, it will likely have a sea of impact on the physician community,” said Joseph Sokolowski Jr., MD, a pulmonologist in Medford Lakes, N.J., and a delegate with the American Thoracic Society. The AMA should “closely monitor the FDA and seek broad approval for any [FDA] proposals and study the cost to consumers,” he said.
Some delegates disagreed with formulating a stance on the FDA’s plan until the house looks more into the issue. But most expressed support for taking a position while the plan is being developed.
“This is clearly a scope issue,” said Vicksburg, Miss.-based family physician Randy Easterling, MD, an alternate delegate for the Mississippi State Medical Assn. who spoke on his own behalf. “If we don’t speak out against it, in five years we’ll be dealing with” the consequences.