Rhode Island Pharmacists’ Pharmaceutical Administration Expansion | Quarles & Brady srl

In a move signaling the growing importance of pharmacists in the global continuum of patient care, Rhode Island (RI) recently enacted new legislation that expands the ability of pharmacists to administer medications directly to patients. While the parameters of this expansion are still largely undefined, pharmacists practicing in the state are expected to become more involved in direct patient care in the future.

The recently passed Senate Bill 0879A updates the definition of “pharmacy practice” in RI ST § 5-19.1-2 (x) to include:

“… administration of vaccines for adults and, drugs approved by the ministry of health in consultation with the pharmacy board for administration by a pharmacist except in the cases provided for in § 5-25-7, in accordance with a valid prescription or physician approved protocol and in accordance with regulations, to include training requirements as promulgated by the Department of Health. (emphasis added).

Please note that the pharmacist’s ability to administer medication:

  • Excludes veterinary drugs as defined in § 5-25-7 of the state statutes;
  • Depend on medications specifically approved by the RI Department of Health (RIDOH) in consultation with the Rhode Island Board of Pharmacy (RIBOP); and
  • Must always be in accordance with a valid prescription or physician approved protocol.

At this stage, RIDOH and RIBOP have not yet defined which drugs will be eligible for administration by pharmacists. However, RIBOP has started to at least consider what types of drugs would or should be approved based on the minutes of board meetings publicly available earlier this year. Specifically, the board is considering that “drugs for TUD, antipsychotics, vitamin B12, anticoagulants, HIV prevention drugs and other injectables” could potentially be approved. It is also not known how drugs administered by pharmacists would be reimbursed and whether this reimbursement would be lower than if the drugs were administered by other types of providers.

While the scope of approved drugs and reimbursement parameters are still unclear, this expansion of pharmacy practice signals the state’s desire to allow pharmacists to be more directly involved in some aspect of patient care, and will likely enable health systems to leverage employed pharmacists to serve patients more effectively across the continuum of care. Based on other recent legislative activity, this appears to be a concerted push by some within the state – Rhode Island is also considering another Senate bill (SB 490) that would expand “the practice of pharmacy.” to include the power to prescribe certain drugs and devices (NOTE: this bill was retained for further study and was not adopted or otherwise enacted).

Quarles & Brady will continue to closely monitor further developments and provide further advice once the approved list of drugs is established.

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