Idaho House Health and Welfare Panel Considers Two Pharmacy Measures 

Drugs and those who prescribe them took the spotlight Friday morning, as the Idaho House Health and Welfare Committee considered two measures dealing with pharmacies and prescriptions.

The first proposal, sponsored by the Idaho Psychological Association, would give Idaho psychologists the authority to write prescriptions.

"The Idaho Board of Psychological Examiners has given the green light, the [Idaho State] Board of Pharmacy has given input and we had some last-minute changes from the Idaho attorney general's office," said IPA spokeswoman Kris Ellis. "This proposal would lay out supervisory and education requirements for psychologists and ultimately fill a gap in our mental health system."

Expressing interest in knowing more about the proposal, committee members agreed to move the measure to a full public hearing at a later date.

A more controversial proposal, which would allow pharmacists to dispense certain drugs without approval from a primary physician, triggered a lot more conversation Friday morning.

"Simply put, this bill aims to increase public health by making it as easy as possible to access medications for low-risk conditions," said Pam Eaton, representing the Idaho State Pharmacists Association. "Rather than piecemeal approval for every separate medication, this would allow the pharmacy association to undergo a formal rule-making process, which would outline which drugs that pharmacists could dispense directly."

Eaton repeatedly referred to what she called "low-risk" prescriptions.

"For example, a motion sickness patch, treatments for cold sores or lice," she explained, presenting letters of support from the American Association of Retired Persons, Idaho State University and more than 100 ISU pharmacy students.

Idaho Medical Association President Susie Pouliot told the committee her colleagues were opposed to the measure.

"If passed, this would be the most liberal, broad-based independent pharmacist law in the nation," she said.

Nonetheless, the committee voted unanimously to approve House Bill 191, sending it the full House for its consideration.
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