Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Assessment of State Board of Pharmacy Legal Documents for Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Academic journal article American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education

An Assessment of State Board of Pharmacy Legal Documents for Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Article excerpt


The 2005 hurricane season revealed major challenges for medical and public health disaster response systems. In steady succession, Hurricanes Dennis (July), Katrina (August), Rita (September), and Wilma (October) caused significant disruption to the Gulf Coast region, displacing more than one million people (1) and resulting in more than 2100 deaths and $USD 112 billion in damage. (2) The cumulative effect of these natural phenomena severely strained existing medical and public health infrastructure, where patient access to chronic care services (including medications) (3) became a principal concern. (1)

In response to the vulnerabilities revealed by the Gulf Coast storms of 2005, the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) convened a task force to address the pharmacy-related aspects of the response.4 The task force observed that, though state boards of pharmacy routinely facilitated access to substantial amounts of web-based resources such as license verification and renewal, pharmacy laws, and continuing education requirements, little information was readily available regarding statutory or regulatory requirements governing pharmacy services in times of disaster. (4) As a result, the task force drafted the "Emergency and Disaster Preparedness and Response Planning Guide for Boards of Pharmacy." (5) By offering draft language suitable for incorporation into state pharmacy practice acts, the guide provided a statutory and regulatory framework for states to use to proactively prepare for future disasters.

It is not uncommon for executive authorities (ie, state boards of pharmacy or state governors) to issue emergency declarations suspending, adopting, or invoking specific rules in times of disaster. (6-9) In lieu of instituting emergency measures post hoc, such authorities recommend that states establish legal measures a priori, (10) allowing the pharmacy and health care communities the benefit of proactively anticipating the regulatory environment when emergency rules are invoked. Since 2006, state boards of pharmacy have had access to guide recommendations, including the eight Rules for Public Health Emergencies (RPHE) in the Model Pharmacy Practice Act. (5) At this point, however, the extent to which the RPHE have been incorporated into state pharmacy legal documents is unknown. As in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane disasters, the actuating question for state boards of pharmacy remained in 2015: is adequate pharmacy-specific legal documentation currently instituted to facilitate the provision of pharmacy services during a disaster?

The purpose of this research, therefore, was to assess the pharmaceutical preparedness of US states and commonwealth territories by evaluating pharmacy regulatory documents for the presence of the eight recommended RPHE.


A quantitative content analysis of board of pharmacy legal documents (ie, statutes, rules, and regulations available through board websites) was performed to assess the level of pharmaceutical preparedness of each US state and commonwealth territory. For this analysis, pharmaceutical preparedness was defined as the presence of the eight recommended RPHE (Table 1) in pharmacy-related statutes or board rules and regulations. Each board of pharmacy website was identified and accessed through the NABP website, which maintains active web links to all member boards. (In an effort to focus on preparedness in the United States, member boards from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand were not included in the analysis.)

Data were collected and evaluated during the months of December 2014 and January 2015. To reduce the risk of overlooking information, board of pharmacy documents were reviewed on three separate occasions for the presence of study variables. Because this analysis did not involve human subject experimentation, institutional review board approval was considered unnecessary and was neither sought nor obtained. …

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