Drawing a Line at Pharmacists Prescribing Medicine

Drawing a Line at Pharmacists Prescribing Medicine

For the 5th installment of an in-depth look into each of the Medical Association’s “Top 10 Highlights” from the 2022 regular session, we will look at the Association’s opposition to allowing pharmacists blanket authority to prescribe vaccines and immunizations

At the beginning of the 2022 Regular Session, a bill was drafted and supported by the Alabama Pharmacy Association that would have given pharmacists broad authority to prescribe vaccines and immunizations.  Currently, pharmacists may administer vaccines, but may not prescribe them. The bill would have permitted pharmacists to prescribe any vaccine or immunization that they are already allowed to administer. 

Proponents of the legislation stated their goal was to expand access to vaccines and immunizations and make permanent some of the additional privileges granted to pharmacists via the temporary COVID emergency orders. As the Association discussed possible alternatives to the bill, medicine offered multiple substitutes to the proposed legislation that would have met the stated goal, but these were all rejected by the pharmacy association. With no agreement in place, proponents failed in their attempt to move the bill forward. 

The Association believes strongly in the physician lead health team and does not support fracturing care delivery. Hence, the Association partnered with the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Alabama Academy of Family Physicians, and the Alabama Chapter of the American College of Physicians in opposition to the bill. The coalition maintained that allowing pharmacists to prescribe vaccines – especially important childhood vaccines – would disrupt the “medical home” and actually hurt children’s access to care. The Association also believed that allowing pharmacists the ability to prescribe was ultimately a “scope creep” style bill that would blur the lines between medicine and pharmacy. The bill “passed” out of the Senate Healthcare Committee on a voice vote from Sen. Jim McClendon despite the absence of a quorum. The bill ultimately failed as it never made it to the Senate floor. The Association fully expects similar legislation to be proposed in the 2023 Regular Session.

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