Thank you OPA members for all your calls and emails to back-up our efforts to expand pharmacists scope of practice to better serve Ohioans! We are pleased to report that your efforts have paid off, as SB 332 has passed the Senate and now moves on to the House!
As we alerted members before, OPA is currently pursuing legislation utilize pharmacists to expand access to prescription drug administrators in Ohio. We now have three months left to finish the job.
This summer, after months of discussions with interested parties and Ohio House of Representatives members, Rep. Sarah LaTourette's (R-Bainbridge Township) HB 421 was successfully voted out of the House and has moved to the Senate. In the meantime, because there are only three months left before the end of the 131st General Assembly, OPA is working hard to ensure that Rep. LaTourette's language passes. As such, in late September, OPA worked with Senator Gayle Manning (R-North Ridgeville) on drafting an amendment to take the language from HB 421 and replicate it in SB 332, a comprehensive infant mortality reform bill currently being championed by Senator Shannon Jones (R-Springboro) and Senator Charleta Tavares (D-Columbus).
After OPA lobbyists worked to successfully integrate Senator Manning's amendment into SB 332, the bill was voted out of committee, and on September 28, SB 332 was voted out of the Senate!
So now, both we have two bills – HB 421 and SB 332 – allow pharmacists (under a physician protocol) to administer by injection any of the following drugs, if the patient has a valid prescription for the drug:
The bills also permit a pharmacist to administer epinephrine or diphenhydramine, or both, to an individual in an emergency resulting from any possible adverse reaction to a drug administration.
So what needs to happen next?
As mentioned earlier, HB 421 has already passed the House, and it now sits in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee. And now SB 332 has passed the Senate, and now will work its way over to the House. OPA is currently advocating for both bills in hopes that one will cross the finish line before the end of the year.
So please call your state representative, and ask for their support for SB 332! Then call your state senator and ask for their support of HB 421!
Pharmacists have been relied upon for years for immunizations, and HB 421 & SB 332 mimic much of the requirements currently in place for immunization administration. As several states already allow complete drug administration authority for pharmacists, without limitations on which drugs can be administered, OPA feels that Ohio pharmacists are ready and well-prepared to expand access to the limited long-acting injectable medications that are contained in HB 421 & SB 332, which will make significant strides in addressing some of Ohio's most pressing health concerns: severe mental illness, substance abuse, and infant mortality.
As long-acting medications are crucial for patients with medication adherence concerns, OPA believes that with limited administration sites in Ohio and several physicians no longer offering the service, access barriers to these important drugs should be minimized, and utilizing pharmacists will help eliminate those barriers.
Visit the OPA VoterVoice Action Center to send a message to your state senator in support of HB 421 and a message to your state representative in support of SB 332.
For more information on the bills and the case for pharmacists to partake in these added responsibilities, there are several pieces of testimony for you to review. Rep. Sarah LaTourette gave sponsor testimony on HB 421 in January.
OPA members Tod J. Grimm (The Centers for Families and Children), Jeff Neidig (Medi-Wise Pharmacy), and Glorimar Guzman-Ortiz (Genoa, a QoL Healthcare Company) delivered testimony to the House Health & Aging Committee in support of the legislation. OPA Director of Government & Public Affairs Antonio Ciaccia gave testimony in support of SB 332 in September.
"While there is no added risk to patient safety by adding pharmacists to the list of drug administrators, there is great reward. By significantly easing the patient's ability to receive the injection, Ohio can greatly increase medication compliance rates; just like we did with immunizations," said T.J. Grimm.
"I would encourage your support of HB 421 [and SB 332] to allow pharmacists to improve patient access to providers who are trained to administer injectable medications to support the health of our community, and ultimately lead to better health outcomes," Neidig told committee members.
"The passage of HB 421 [and SB 332] will allow pharmacists to complement the efforts of psychiatrists, nurses, and other health care providers to help improve access to these medications that are so needed by our patients," explained Guzman-Ortiz.
We would also like to acknowledge OPA member Barry Klein (Klein's Pharmacy) for submitting written testimony in support of the bill, as well as pharmacist Heather Carey (University Hospitals), psychiatric clinical nurse specialist Denise Flynn (Signature Health), physician Patrick Runnels (The Centers for Families and Children), and the Dustin McKee (National Alliance on Mental Illness). Even the Ohio State Medical Association voiced their support for this expanded authority for pharmacists.
Special thanks to Representative LaTourette, Senator Manning, Senator Jones, and Senator Tavares for working with us on this important legislation.
Outside of the support of volunteers and members, and the work of OPA's legislative staff in building coalitions and meeting with legislators, supporting political campaigns is a huge part of the advocacy process. We need to support good legislators who support pharmacy and the patients we serve, and we need to build on these recent success by working towards even bigger goals. Please consider financial support of our legislative efforts by contributing to the OPA Pharmacy PAC. 100% of Pharmacy PAC money contributed by pharmacists goes to help candidates who support pharmacy in Ohio. Or if you'd like to make a corporate contribution to support OPA's investment in our advocacy program, please consider being a part of the OPA Legislative Defense Fund (LDF).