The National Association of Chain Drug Stores president and CEO Steve Anderson and the California Retailers Association president and CEO Rachel Michelin are calling upon California Governor Gavin Newsom to waive California’s statute that arbitrarily restricts to 1:1 the maximum ratio of pharmacy technicians to pharmacists, and to temporarily allow a pharmacist to work with up to 4 techs.
In a statement, Anderson and Michelin said, "Pharmacies, pharmacists and pharmacy teams continue to play a critical role in the nation’s COVID-19 response and recovery efforts. Effectively leveraging the existing retail pharmacy network where every individual lives within 5 miles of a retail store can swiftly and efficiently accelerate the vaccination of priority populations and those in rural and underserved areas. This includes expanding equitable and convenient access to COVID-19 services including screening, testing, and vaccinations to communities and populations in every corner of California.
Anderson and Michelin noted that retail pharmacies in California are limited in their ability to maximize their staffing resources to provide COVID-19 vaccinations as the state maintains the most restrictive pharmacy technician–to–pharmacist ratio in the nation.
"NACDS and CRA strongly urge Governor Newsom to waive California’s statute that arbitrarily restricts to 1:1 the maximum ratio of pharmacy technicians to pharmacists. Further, we urge immediate action to allow pharmacists to work with up to four technicians during the COVID-19 pandemic," they said.
In the statement, the pair emphasized that California maintains the most restrictive pharmacy technician-to-pharmacist ratio in the nation. "Temporarily increasing this ratio to up to 4:1 would allow pharmacies and pharmacy staff to meet patients’ health and wellness needs more efficiently and effectively throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in our underserved communities. This would be a very measured approach, as nearly half of the states have a greater ratio than 4:1 or no ratio at all."
“We urge Gov. Newsom to remove this arbitrary limitation as an effective way to optimize the system; to increase patient access to routine vaccinations and point-of-care testing, such as COVID-19 testing; and to help pharmacy teams safely, efficiently and equitably provide COVID-19 vaccinations to communities throughout the state. Pharmacies, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians continue to serve Californians extremely well throughout the pandemic. Pharmacies have played a key role in advising the State of California, other states and the federal government about policies needed to keep stores open and operating efficiently, to secure the safety and health of patients and staff teams, to keep patients on their medication therapies, putting patients over paperwork," said the statement.
Finally, Anderson and Michelin applauded Gov. Newsom for the related actions he has previously taken to empower pharmacists and pharmacy technicians to advance public health. "To ultimately re-open the state safely and to prepare for future needs related to this virus, we urge him to do the same immediately by temporarily removing an outdated and arbitrary limitation so that pharmacies in California can prepare fully to vaccinate the public efficiently and equitably as vaccine supplies become available, and to meet patients’ needs throughout this pandemic,” the leaders said.