Plus, the latest pharmacy and healthcare news to know this week
Michigan is going all in on remote dispensing pharmacies. Last week, the state’s Senate approved a new bill to allow licensed pharmacists to dispense prescription drugs through up to two remote pharmacies. These pharmacies would be located in areas without existing pharmacies within 10 miles.
Why it matters
The proposed legislation could help improve access to prescriptions and pharmacy services for people living in remote areas in Michigan (the state is open to waiving the 10-mile radius requirement if there is other evidence of factors that limit patient access). Supported by Cardinal Health, the bill would allow the pharmacies to fill up to 225 prescriptions a day. According to The Detroit News, the remote pharmacies would be staffed by licensed technicians and supervised by a licensed pharmacist who would conduct virtual consultations with patients over video conferences and ensure that prescriptions are accurate.
That said, the bill has sparked some debate over potential consequences of remote dispensing amid the ongoing opioid crisis. Critics have raised concerns about the possibility of illegal activities regarding the misuse of prescriptions. Sen. Mallory McMorrow (D-Royal Oak), for instance, noted potential issues arising in areas without broadband access and the bill’s lack of security measures to prevent mistakes and diversion of drugs. She proposed revising the bill to include added security measures.
The bill passed 32-6 in the Senate and will now be reviewed by the State House. If it becomes law, Michigan would join other U.S. states with telepharmacy systems already in place.
Other Healthcare News to Watch
- Albertsons Companies is offering easy at-home opioid disposal options at pharmacy locations across the U.S. Fox Business.
- Facebook is partnering with the WHO to prevent the spread of false vaccine information online. NY Times.
- Amazon’s PillPack has lost access to patient data after a dispute with Surescripts. CNBC.
- The number of uninsured Americans has risen for the first time in 10 years. Kaiser Health News.
- The federal government is giving state and local governments nearly $2 billion in grants to combat the opioid crisis. AP News.