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PTCB implements two changes in recertification requirements for Certified Pharmacy Technicians

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — Beginning in 2015, the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board will implement two changes in recertification requirements for Certified Pharmacy Technicians, the group announced Monday. 
 
First, any continuing education hours earned by a CPhT will need to be pharmacy technician-specific to qualify for recertification. Second, PTCB will reduce the number of allowable 'in-service' CE hours from 10 to 5. In-service CE refers to certain projects or training earned at a CPhT's workplace under a pharmacist's supervision. 
 
PTCB's new requirements are part of the Certification Program changes PTCB announced in early 2013 to advance pharmacy technician qualifications by elevating PTCB's standards for certification and recertification. The revised CE requirements are meant to ensure that CPhTs are continually educated through programs specific to the knowledge required in today's pharmacy settings. 
 
As the nation's healthcare system evolves, pharmacy technician roles are expanding to better support pharmacists. "It is important for pharmacy technicians to be educated through programs designed to address technician-specific responsibilities and knowledge requirements in the pharmacy," said PTCB executive director and CEO Everett McAllister. "PTCB's T-specific CE requirement and the phased reduction in allowable in-service CE hours are both consistent with this goal." 
 
Many CE providers currently offer T-specific CE, and others are expanding their T-specific programs. PTCB will accept any T-specific program provided by an organization accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education, as indicated by a 'T' as the last digit of the course accreditation number. However, PTCB does not require CPhTs to earn their CE hours only from ACPE-accredited providers. To qualify as T-specific, a CE course's objectives must assess or sustain competencies critical to pharmacy technician practice. 
 
PTCB will implement additional Certification Program changes in the future. Changes in recertification requirements will include: decreasing allowable CE hours earned from college courses from 15 to 10 by 2016; and completely phasing out allowable in-service CE hours by 2018. By 2020, PTCB will require new candidates seeking initial certification to successfully complete an American Society of Health-System Pharmacists/ACPE-accredited education program.
 
PTCB's Certification Program changes support and advance improved patient care and safety throughout pharmacy practice. The changes are the result of a PTCB initiative which began with a 2011 summit on future directions for pharmacy technicians. Summit findings, combined with results from two profession-wide surveys, called for decisive changes, the group noted.
 
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PhRMA report: 800 medicines and vaccines in development to treat cancer

BY Michael Johnsen

WASHINGTON — America’s biopharmaceutical research companies are currently developing nearly 800 new medicines and vaccines for cancer, according to a new report released Monday by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.
 
“In recent decades, we have seen great progress in developing effective cancer treatments that help extend lives, improve quality of life and increase productivity,” said PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani. “Continued research has expanded our knowledge of how cancer develops and how to target medicines for specific cancer types, which has resulted in more effective therapies for patients.”
 
As detailed in the new report, biopharmaceutical research companies continue to explore new avenues to fight cancer, which has been found to be a set of more than 200 unique diseases. Researchers also are identifying ways to use existing medicines, either alone or in combination with other therapies, to treat various types of cancers more effectively than current standards of care. 
 
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for nearly 1-in-4 deaths, according to the American Cancer Society. More than 1.6 million new cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2014 alone, and nearly 600,000 Americans are projected to die from cancer this year.
 
“Although the death rate from cancer has been steadily declining for the past four decades, its toll is still staggering. Despite the complexity of the challenge, researchers at biopharmaceutical companies remain committed to developing new treatment options for patients," Castellani said.
 
Of the 771 medicines and vaccines either in clinical trials or awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration, there are 98 for lung cancer, 87 for leukemia, 78 for lymphoma, 73 for breast cancer, 56 for skin cancer and 48 for ovarian cancer. 
 
The report highlights how biopharmaceutical research companies are working together and collaborating with academic medical centers, government and non-profit organizations to make progress against cancer a reality. These public- private partnerships help to leverage diversity of thought and experience and reduce potential duplication. The goal is to increase the number of new therapies for patients while reducing the time necessary to develop them.
 
Castellani will discuss the importance of collaborations and commitment of biopharmaceutical researchers to persevere despite scientific challenges and setbacks at the Turning the Tide Against Cancer National Conference on Oct. 9. PhRMA is a sponsor of the conference, which will bring together thought leaders from industry, advocacy organizations, academia and government to discuss the cancer research and care landscape. 
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NEHI names winners of 2014 Innovators in Health award

BY Michael Johnsen

BOSTON — The Network for Excellence in Health Innovation on Monday announced the recipients of its 2014 Innovators in Health award. The awards recognizes individuals whose work reflects the spirit of NEHI and embraces the mission of improving the quality of health care and reducing costs for patients and their families. 
 
This year’s honorees are:
 
  • Margaret Hamburg, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration for her lifetime of achievements in meeting public health challenges and ensuring the health and safety of the American public;
  • Rebecca Onie, CEO Health Leads, for her pioneering work to incorporate social needs such as food and housing into the healthcare delivery system; and
  • James Park, CEO Fitbit, for making public health a priority in his entrepreneurship by marrying fitness to technology to reach millions of people through innovative products.
 
“NEHI is proud to honor these exceptional individuals who are dedicated to transforming the healthcare system through innovation,” said Wendy Everett, CEO of NEHI. “Their work reflects our own mission to identify and speed adoption of innovations that improve the quality and lower the costs of health care, and improve people’s lives.”
 
“CVS Health is pleased to join NEHI in honoring these three individuals who have truly embraced innovation to help advance health care,” said Troyen Brennan, EVP and chief medical officer of CVS Health, who is to present the award to James Park. “Our purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we are honored to be an active member and supporter of NEHI as the organization continues its focus on enabling innovation to improve health care quality and reduce costs.”
 
The honors are to be awarded at a dinner ceremony on Oct. 8 in Boston.
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