Pharmacists' Services Expanded in Ohio

A new Ohio law grants pharmacists the power to dispense life-saving medications when patients run out of refills and are unable to secure a prescription from their health care provider.

A new Ohio law grants pharmacists the power to dispense life-saving medications when patients run out of refills and are unable to secure a prescription from their health care provider. Signed in December 2015 by Gov. John Kasich and put into effect earlier this year, HB 188 also broadens the services pharmacists can provide through physician consult agreements.

The push to pass the law was instigated by the death of 36-year-old Ohio resident and diabetic patient Kevin Houdeshell, whose pharmacist was unable to provide Houdeshell with the insulin he needed on a holiday weekend in late 2013 because the man did not have a prescription.

Following his death, Houdeshell’s parents lobbied their local legislators to change the law so that other families wouldn’t have to suffer the same ordeal.

The law allows pharmacists to order up to a 30-day supply of refills (or the smallest unit measurement possible if it can’t be broken into a 30-day supply) for patients whose lives will be endangered without their medication and whose physician can’t be reached to prescribe a refill.

According to Antonio Ciaccia, director of government and public affairs for the Ohio Pharmacists Association (OPA), the new law acknowledges a large gap in health coverage. “Patients, whether it’s insulin or any other medication, might run out of refills and may not have access to the medications they need to stay alive, and this has kind of opened up a much greater conversation with the diabetic community and folks with hypertension and what-not,” he said.

HB 188 also consolidates physician consult agreement paperwork to allow multiple pharmacists to have collaborative agreements with multiple physicians to oversee drug therapy for multiple patients. It also allows the pharmacists to order blood and urine tests, analyze the results, and then alter the patients’ medications as needed, including ordering new drugs and administering drugs, when acting within a consult agreement.

"This law is a game-changer for all Ohioans who suffer from chronic diseases,” said OPA Executive Director Ernest Boyd. “The Ohio Pharmacists Association applauds Governor Kasich for his leadership and forward-thinking approach to improving patient lives and outcomes through enhanced, expanded pharmacist services."

Adds OPA President Jeff Bartone, "Pharmacists are incredibly under-utilized in the health care system, and HB 188 takes a major philosophical step forward that emphasizes the services pharmacists can offer as key health care providers."