PHARMACY

Ohio seeking tougher standards for training, certification of pharmacy techs

BY Jim Frederick

COLUMBUS, Ohio Ohio this week came close to joining a long and still-growing list of states requiring that pharmacy technicians pass qualification requirements to meet minimum safety standards.

The Buckeye State’s legislature passed a bill to establish minimum practice and capability standards for pharmacy techs, and is awaiting the signature of Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for the bill to become law. Among other things, the legislation stipulates that pharmacy techs must be educated to the level of high school graduate and pass background and proficiency tests to be certified to work behind the counter.

If the bill becomes law, as expected, Ohio would join a roster of roughly 40 states that have adopted regulations governing pharmacy technicians, according to the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board and the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy. The most recent was Florida, which in mid-2007 enacted a law requiring pharmacy techs to register and, beginning in 2011, to gain certification through either a lengthy training program under a licensed pharmacist, or through an examination process sponsored by either the state board of pharmacy or a nationally accredited certification program.

The growing pharmacy tech certification trend was spurred in large part by the death in 2006 of two-year-old Emily Jerry at the Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. Her death, following a prescription error with saline solution by a pharmacy technician, prompted an acceleration in the training and certification of pharmacy techs and also spurred movement in Congress for a federal law governing techs.

That bill, introduced in the House last year by Ohio Republican Rep. Steve LaTourette and dubbed “Emily’s Act,” would require that pharmacy technicians be trained, registered and certified across the country.

American consumers, for their part, appear strongly in favor of certification and training for pharmacy techs. A survey from the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board showed that most consumers already mistakenly believe such standards are in place on a national level.

“American consumers—in fact, 91 percent of those surveyed—support strong regulations across the country to protect patient safety by requiring that pharmacy technicians be trained and certified,” said Melissa Murer Corrigan, the PTCB’s executive director and chief executive.

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Aurora to support Concordia University School of Pharmacy

BY Alaric DeArment

MEQUON, Wis. Milwaukee-based Aurora Health Care will provide program support for Concordia University Wisconsin’s upcoming School of Pharmacy, Concordia officials announced Wednesday.

“It is important that we extend our resources to help ensure there are more opportunities to educate and train pharmacists in Wisconsin,” Aurora president and chief executive officer Nick Turkal said in a statement. “We have a longstanding commitment to find solutions to the challenges of health care, including the need to fill those positions where there are workforce shortages.”

One part of Aurora’s support involves letting Concordia pharmacy students work at Aurora pharmacies while its pharmacists serve as instructors at the school.

“We are excited with the news that Aurora Health Care will be partnering with us,” Concordia School of Pharmacy executive dean Curt Gielow said.

Concordia has raised $3 million of the $20 million it needs to build the pharmacy school by the 2011-2012 academic year, including $17 million to construct the building, Gielow said. The school will accept 50 to 75 students per class and train practitioner pharmacists to work in urban and rural areas.

The academic program will include a standard “2+4” program, comprising a two-year pre-pharmacy program and a four-year professional program, as well as a four-year bachelor of science degree program in pharmaceutical sciences.

Milwaukee is one of the largest cities in the country without a local pharmacy school.

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FDA grants waivers to Abaxis for point-of-care analyzers

BY Alaric DeArment

UNION CITY, Calif. The Food and Drug Administration has given blood-analysis system manufacturer Abaxis a waived status for two analytes, creatine kinase and phosphorus, when used by healthcare professionals with the Piccolo and Piccolo Xpress point-of-care analyzers, Abaxis said last week.

The company said Thursday that as a result of the waived status, healthcare professionals have better access to the Renal Function and MetLyte 8 panels and can conduct this testing at the point-of-care under a certificate of waiver.

“The waiver of these two panels bolsters our already comprehensive offering to healthcare professionals, enabling them to conduct important testing at the point of care in order to manage patients in real time,” Abaxis chairman and chief executive officer Clint Severson said in a statement. “We believe rapid and accurate diagnostic testing can lead to improved patient care while reducing some of the administrative burden healthcare practices face on a daily basis.”

The panels are respectively used to determine renal function status and to assess several metabolic conditions across several medical specialties, including pediatrics and cardiology.

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