PAMED to Pa. Lawmakers: Oppose Bill to Grant Pharmacists Authority to Administer Certain Diagnostic Tests

Last Updated: Oct 7, 2020

A Pennsylvania bill – Senate Bill (SB) 1210 – that would expand pharmacists’ authority to administer certain diagnostic tests was approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee on Oct. 6, 2020. It is expected to be considered by the full Senate in the near future.Harrisburg-Capitol-night

The Pennsylvania Medical Society (PAMED) is neutral on provisions in SB 1210 that would grant pharmacists the ability to test more widely for COVID-19. We understand that we must all work together to lessen the impact of the current pandemic.

However, we now oppose the amended bill that would grant pharmacists with the authority to administer “waived” diagnostic tests that might include analyzing blood, urine, and fecal samples, and performing tests such as rapid strep.

In a recent letter to Senate Health and Human Services Committee members, PAMED President Lawrence John, MD, urged lawmakers to oppose provisions in SB 1210 that would grant pharmacists clinical authority beyond COVID-19 testing. 

We shared the following concerns with legislators:

  • Some of these “diagnostic screenings” yield unreliable results that can be very misleading, if not wrong.
  • Pharmacists are unable to initiate any treatment and would need to refer their customer to a physician for follow up.

For example, an improperly administered rapid test for strep throat may yield a false negative result. The pharmacy customer may be reassured that they do not have strep throat and potentially wait to contact a physician when symptoms worsen. In this case, the customer could develop post-strep glomerular-nephritis or go on to develop rheumatic fever in the future, ultimately damaging the customer’s heart valves. These complications are real and can happen, especially when tests are inadequately performed.

“While we appreciate the role pharmacists can play in helping administer COVID-19 tests, we see no rationale for extending their authority into an area of clinical medicine for which they are not qualified to  diagnose, treat, or appropriately counsel customers,” our letter said.

PAMED will continue to oppose the passage SB 1210 and share any updates with members.

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