Oregon Delegates Committee to Expand Pharmacy Services

HB 2397 will allow patients to avoid a trip to the doctor for a growing number of routine prescription medications and medical devices by allowing a committee to decide which products a pharmacist may appropriately prescribe. The state has previously authorized pharmacists to dispense medications such as birth control, but the Legislature needed to pass a statute.

The Senate unanimously passed a bill that will expand an executive committee to decide which drugs and medical devices pharmacists can prescribe and dispense without a doctor’s prescription.

The Legislature has increased healthcare access in Oregon by giving pharmacists the ability to dispense tobacco cessation drugs, contraceptives and Naloxone, a drug overdose antidote.

Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg, the chief sponsor of House Bill 2397, said the Public Health and Pharmacy Formulary Advisory Committee will be able to consider additional medical products that pharmacists can safely give consumers without needing the Legislature to pass a new bill each go around.

It’s a big win for the Oregon State Pharmacy Association and the Oregon Society of Health System Pharmacists, which have been advocating for years to give pharmacists a greater role in improving healthcare access.

“Adoption of this legislation will eliminate the current ‘one drug at a time’ approach by providing an inter-professional, streamlined procedure to effectively engage pharmacists to meet healthcare concerns of Oregonians,” argued pharmacy lobbyist Bill Cross in his testimony before the Senate Health Committee. 

Although Oregon was the first state to allow pharmacists to prescribe birth control, Oregon is actually behind its neighbor Washington in expanding the scope of practice for pharmacists.

“Washington state allows pharmacists to directly provide medications or supplies that address a number of healthcare concerns, resulting in cost-effective solutions for patients’ healthcare concerns in real time,” said Jim McClellan, a Happy Valley pharmacist who works part-time in Washington.

HB 2397 will take effect immediately upon the governor’s signature, which Kruse said would allow the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, the Oregon Medical Board and the Oregon Board of Nursing to immediately begin recruiting members for the new committee and get to work.

Chris can be reached at [email protected].

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