Salem, Oregon— In May, Governor Katherine Brown made headlines by signing a bill into law that will give pharmacists across the state the authority to prescribe a set list of medications and devices. As early as the first of 2018, they will be able to both write and dispense a variety of “post-diagnostic” treatments, including albuterol inhalers, diabetic test strips and potentially even emergency refills for insulin in type 1 diabetics.

The key distinction in pharmacists’ new prescribing authority versus that of physicians’ will be tied to diagnosis. The approved formulary list will set guardrails to limit pharmacists to only those interventions that do not require diagnostic intervention. Instead of seeing this as competition, this new power is intended to free up small pieces of time for doctors to focus on other essential parts of their discipline.

While this news may sound remarkably progressive to American ears, our Canadian neighbors have placed far more control in pharmacists’ hands for years. In many provinces and territories, they have authority to not only prescribe the treatments that this new Oregon bill outlines, but they also have the ability to make therapeutic substitutions, prescribe proactively in a collaborative practice, and even diagnose and treat minor ailments and conditions.

Why This Matters—

In the US, many pharmaceutical and device manufacturers market their products directly to prescribers. Traditionally, the majority of sales efforts have focused on physicians, so will the dawn of prescribing for US pharmacists mark a shift in strategy for healthcare marketers? How should brands tailor their messages to a new audience with new rules?

About the Author:

Drew Beck brings more than a decade of broad healthcare experience to GSW in his role as the Director of Innovation. He has enjoyed working for big healthcare names including Eli Lilly & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline in Global Marketing and Pharmaceutical Sales roles, but his start came from hands-on work in patient care in Emergency Medicine. This foundation has given him a deep understanding of both patients and healthcare professionals. In his current role, he combines all he has learned from this background with insights into current market trends to help clients drive the future of their brands.