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ASHP BOARD WILL STUDY PHARMACISTS PRESCRIBING ISSUE AND PREPARE REPORT FOR 1987 ANNUAL MEETING; GROUP APPROVES BY-LAWS CHANGE TO EXPAND MEMBERSHIP

Executive Summary

The American Society of Hospital Pharmacists will examine the issue of pharmacist prescribing and prepare a report of findings to be presented at the group's 1987 annual meeting. A motion authorizing the study of "prescriptive authority" by the Board of Directors was approved by ASHP's House at a meeting on June 4 and presented as new business at the 1986 annual meeting in Denver last week. As background to the recommendation, a pharmacist delegate from Wisconsin noted that ASHP's 1985-86 Strategic Planning Activities report "addresses many practice concerns, but does not address prescriptive authority per se. A comprehensive review of the practice implications of granting prescriptive authority to pharmacists and to others is needed." The background statement recognizes numerous concerns that exist about pharmacist prescribing, including "liability insurance coverage, competency standards, procedures to inform and protect the public, and the ever increasing complexities of drug therapy." Last spring, Florida became the first state to permit pharmacist prescribing of certain drugs without physician supervision ("The Pink Sheet" April 14, p. 7). ASHP's move to address the issue of Rx drug prescribing by pharmacists outside a hospital setting is another illustration of how the organization is attempting to broaden its role in the pharmacy profession. Initially founded as a group for hospital-based practitioners, at the annual meeting ASHP approved a bylaw change to open up membership to any pharmacist who "supports the purposes of ASHP" ("The Pink Sheet" June 2, T&G-1). ASHP executive VP Joseph Oddis explained that the new focus is best illustrated by the identification statement that appears on all official ASHP correspondence. Formerly, that statement read: "The national specialty society of pharmacists practicing in hospitals and related institutions." The new statement reads: "Pharmacists dedicated to advancing rational drug therapy in organized health care settings." A new logo, presented at the meeting, is in keeping with the extended scope of ASHP. The logo phases out use of the society's full name in favor of the initials ASHP. The report on "ASHP Strategic Planning Activities, 1985-1986," addresses the issue of current trends in the pharmacy profession that "move segments of the profession toward a specialized focus of practice" on one hand and "[blur] . . . roles and . . . [distort] . . . the once-clear differences among settings (academic, hospital practice, community practice and industry) and tasks (administrative, clinical and educational)" on the other. The report maintains that "the survival and growth of comprehensive pharmaceutical service in an integrated practice model depends on the continued evolution of generalist skills." The 1985-86 Strategic Planning report, distributed for the first time at the June annual meeting, reflects the need for "flexibility" in support of a generalist environment. The ASHP Task Force on SIG (Special Interest Group) Program Assessment, created last November, currently is evaluating the issue's implications for participation in ASHP special interest groups. The ASHP Strategic Planning Activities report is produced annually as a consensus of the views of the Board of Directors, chairman and vice chairman of the policymaking councils, members of ASHP's commission on goals, and corporate and professional level staff. "High technology issues" and pharmacist involvement in drug and drug-delivery developments are crucial, this year's report notes. The report states: "Many practicioners are uninformed about the immediacy of [new drug] developments. These new technologies are being produced; many without the input of pharmacy practitioners. Unless the profession develops a strategy to influence these new technologies at their development and implementation phases, pharmacists may find themselves omitted from this segment of the drug-delivery process. Consequently, there is an immediate need for pharmacy to make a clear statement concerning its interest ad responsibilities in these areas and to communicate with industry about the need to involve the pharmacy profession in the development of high-technology drug products and devices." According the the Strategic Planning Activities report, one strategy for confronting the "high technology" problem is to "[encourage] vendors of these systems to work with pharmacists at both research and development levels as well as sales and distribution efforts." According to ASHP, society officials have been establishing informal communication lines with the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association (PMA) on this and related issues. PMA representatives, for instance, visited Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia recently to familiarize themselves with the workings of a hospital pharmacy. This year's Strategic Planning Activities report also identified a growing emphasis on "manpower," or qualified pharmacist shortage, concerns. The problem, however, may be short-term, the report cautions. One recommended remedy is "greater use of trained, qualified technicians" and enhanced career opportunities for technicians.
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