Use of Technicians Would Free Pharmacists to Spend More Time as Customer Advocates

Harry Bernstein takes a common sense approach ("Prescription for Pharmacist Shortage," Feb. 6) by advocating wider use of technicians in pharmacies. While this measure alone will not solve the current national pharmacist shortage, it would certainly help.

Until now, the use of pharmacy technicians has not been allowed in California in any setting other than a hospital. A recently adopted Board of Pharmacy regulatory amendment would change that, if approved by the state Office of Administrative Law. We have used pharmacy technicians successfully in hospitals for years, and I think other pharmacy practice settings would benefit from their use as well.

One important reason for using pharmacy technicians is to make the pharmacist more accessible to patients. Pharmacists have a professional obligation to promote safe and effective use of drugs. This requires that they counsel patients on the appropriate use of their prescription medication and make themselves available to answer questions that patients may have about their prescriptions. It is difficult for pharmacists to meet this responsibility if they personally have to perform all the steps involved in filling a prescription. That's where technicians come in.

We encourage your readers to think of their pharmacists--whether in the community pharmacy or in the hospital--as their advocates in all matters related to drug therapy. We're here to help, and we want to.



The writer is executive vice president of the California Society of Hospital Pharmacists.

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