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Minnesota Pharmacist Journal - Winter 2018
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Working Together to Advance Pharmacy Practice

By Lynda Welage, PharmD, FCCP, Dean, University of Minnesota College of Pharmacy, pharm@umn.edu

For the past several years, the College of Pharmacy has worked with the Minnesota Pharmacists Association and the Minnesota Society of Health-System Pharmacists on the Pharmacy Advocacy Task Force (PATF) to seek legislative changes to the Pharmacy Practice Act that will allow pharmacists in Minnesota to practice to the limits of their education.

The task force has been successful in getting changes passed in previous legislative sessions, including several important pharmacy-related provisions in the 2014 Health and Human Services Omnibus Bill, and expanding immunization authority for pharmacists in 2015.

More recently, the PATF has continued our work to expand patient access to care. We have several initiatives that we hope will be addressed during the 2018 legislative session, including allowing pharmacists to prescribe:

  • The opiate antagonist naloxone: Currently, the ability of pharmacists to prescribe naloxone varies across the country. A recent study found that the most common reason for naloxone rescue kits (NRK) prescription was a patient, family or friend request (56.4%). The data suggest that patients or family of at-risk patients might feel more comfortable requesting NRKs from pharmacists, thus increasing the direct access to NRKs for at-risk patients. About 43% of the NRKs were dispensed based on the pharmacist’s identifying patients at risk for an overdose. This supports the idea that pharmacists play an important role in reducing overdose deaths and educating the community on opioid abuse and naloxone use.
  • Hormonal contraceptives: In Minnesota in 2010, the federal and state governments spent $332.6 million on unintended pregnancies; of this, $203.9 million was paid by the federal government and $128.7 million was paid by the state. The total public costs for unintended pregnancies in 2010 was $318 per woman aged 15–44 in Minnesota, compared with $201 per woman nationally. Increasing the scope of pharmacists to prescribe oral hormonal contraceptives can increase access of care to many patients, and help reduce the negative effects of unintended pregnancies on an individual and community level by removing unnecessary and inefficient barriers.
  • Tobacco cessation treatment: According to the Minnesota Department of Health, smoking causes 5,900 deaths and over $2.5 billion in medical costs every year in Minnesota. A study found that community pharmacist intervention led to a 12.7% increase in smoking cessation rates through interventions related to nicotine replacement.
  • Travel medications: International tourists are estimated to reach 1.6 billion by 2020, with an increasing proportion visiting the developing world. Providing Minnesota pharmacists with the ability to prescribe medications according to the CDC for travel abroad would enhance access to recommended medications and be a practical convenience for thousands of Minnesotans. It would also will help Minnesotans stay healthy while traveling and returning home. Travel medications include vaccines, medications for traveler’s diarrhea and malaria prevention.

Being new to Minnesota and the PATF, I am very pleased to see the professional organizations working together, along with our college, to accomplish what is best for patients and the profession. I know that by working together, we can accomplish many great things and help empower all Minnesota pharmacists to best serve their patients.

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