Pharmacy technicians in Pennsylvania may soon be held to higher regulatory standards as a result of new legislation passed by state lawmakers.
In a 179-15 decision, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives voted to approve House Bill 854 (HB 854), an amendment to the state’s 1961 Pharmacy Act that would require all pharmacy technicians to acquire a high school diploma or equivalent, pass a criminal background check, complete a training program approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy, and register with the state.
“With the volume of prescriptions increasing and a growing shortage of pharmacists, it is more important than ever that employees assisting the pharmacist be trained and meet minimum standard requirements,” wrote bill sponsor Representative Tony DeLuca in a memorandum to the other members of the state House.
Following the vote, Rep. Deluca said the bill would maintain the safety of prescription medications and reduce the risk of those with a criminal history handing such drugs.
Unlike many states, Pennsylvania does not currently require standardized training or minimal education requirements for pharmacy technicians, a shortcoming that led the Pennsylvania Pharmacist Association (PPA) to lobby for the bill’s inception.
“Pennsylvania is one of the few states to have no regulation over technicians, which is very troubling to many of our pharmacists. A number of technicians even find it disturbing,” PPA CEO Patricia A. Epple told Pharmacy Times in an exclusive interview. “Fortunately, there has been very little opposition to this current bill.”
The technician bill is not the only recent piece of pharmacy-related legislation to make its way through the Pennsylvania General Assembly. Last week, the state Senate passed Senate Bill 305 (SB 305), which would allow pharmacists in Pennsylvania to administer the flu vaccine to children aged 9 years and older, while a similar bill, HB 182, was approved by the House of Representatives in April.
HB 854 will now move to the Pennsylvania Senate; if approved there, it will be sent to Governor Tom Wolf to be signed into law or vetoed.