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Pharmacists Wary of Law Mandating Counseling Role


April 1993

After seeking a federal law giving them a greater role in patient care, many pharmacists are voicing misgivings over a law requiring pharmacists to take medical and drug histories and counsel patients regarding prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs (Elyse Tanouye, "Many Druggists Don't Welcome Counseling Law," Wall Street Journal, 3/5/93, B1).

[The pharmacists' reaction is interesting both in light of the profession's long-time efforts to expand its role in health care, and in light of proposals by some drug law reformers who have suggested a similar role for pharmacists under a regimen of legal, but carefully regulated drugs. Criminal Justice Policy Foundation president Eric E. Sterling, for example, developed a proposal five years ago that drugs now subject to the federal Controlled Substances Act be dispensed by pharmacists following counseling with consumers regarding the appropriate uses, risks and recommended dosages of these drugs.]

Among the objections voiced by pharmacists to the new law are that with the increased responsibility and possibility of greater malpractice liability, they will not be paid for the additional service. They estimate the additional cost of increased liability risks, clerical costs updated computer equipment and software will add at least $2.50 per prescription.