Tip of the Week: Maintaining Effective Relationships with Your State Board of Pharmacy

This Tip of the Week examines a case where a pharmacist actually sued his state’s Board of Pharmacy.

Pharmacies and pharmacists want to ‘keep their nose clean’ when it comes to a state Board of Pharmacy. Each provider might not have a relationship with the board per se, but individuals for any number of reasons might come into contact with the board as a whole or with individual members.

This Tip of the Week examines a case where a pharmacist actually sued his state’s Board of Pharmacy. The case, its ruling, and further considerations were detailed in an article published by the American Pharmacists Association in Pharmacy Today.

The case transpired in Ohio, where a pharmacist sued the state’s board, contending that “work conditions at pharmacies are such that pharmacists are unable to comply with the rules established by the board,” and further that the board had made “missteps in the use of its discretion,” thereby impeding the ability of pharmacists to adequately protect the public from the opioid epidemic. The pharmacist sought a writ of mandamus seeking to compel the board to perform acts that the law requires of the board.

The pharmacist explained that the board’s rules require patient profiles, prospective drug use review, and an offer of patient counsel, and thus a “corresponding responsibility” to screen controlled substance prescriptions. The board sought and achieved dismissal of the suit, noting that mandamus was an “extraordinary remedy,” and that the pharmacist lacked “standing to sue,” given the absence of a legal action taken against the pharmacist.

The author then provided a list of steps to take as an advocate for public health protection when approaching a state board of pharmacy. These include:

  • identify a specific problem that arises under the laws or the board’s interpretation of the laws, and how action or inaction has failed to adequately protect the public;
  • propose a specific solution;
  • provide data that supports an expectation of better public health protection if the solution is implemented;
  • discuss the solution with individual board members prior to a meeting (1-on-1, which is permissible);
  • anticipate opposition and make modifications;
  • formally submit the proposal;
  • and appear before the board at a scheduled meeting to support the proposal.

Pharmacists, and particularly managers, have the experience and opportunity to affect policy and advocate politically through their state pharmacy association and also directly to their board of pharmacy. Managers might be asked to appear before the board for any number of reasons for which they did not initiate themselves.

Managers must be familiar with laws and regulations, how those laws have been interpreted, and how they impact the workplace and the public’s safety. Adequate planning, networking, and effective communication underscore successful strategies.

Additional information about medication therapy management and management functions can be found in Pharmacy Management: Essentials for All Practice Settings, 5e. You or your institution can subscribe to AccessPharmacy to access the textbook.

Shane P. Desselle, RPh, PhD, FAPhA, Professor of Social/Behavioral Pharmacy at Touro University California.


Brushwood DB. Ohio pharmacist sues state Board of Pharmacy. Pharmacy Today. 2018;24:42. https://www.pharmacytoday.org/article/S1042-0991(18)31416-6/fulltext