New Mexico pharmacists may get more prescription power

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SANTA FE, N.M. — Expanding access to health care has been a longtime goal for state leaders. Two similar bills are making their way through the House and the Senate that would give more prescription writing and filling power to pharmacists.

The goal is to expand health care access to rural parts of New Mexico.

“We want to work with the entire health care community to make sure everyone is getting the help they need especially in rural or tribal communities,” said Donald Godwin, dean of the UNM College of Pharmacy. “The mother could go into a pharmacy and get a step throat test, get the throat swab, and if it comes back positive – right now they would have to send that mother and her kids to some other kind of provider, urgent care or emergency room, their primary care provider, if they can get in. They would then get their prescription there, and then come back to the pharmacy in order to get their medication.”

The two bills aim to cut down on that time families are spending driving – to the pharmacy, then to the doctor’s office, and back – by allowing pharmacists to prescribe and administer a wider variety of medicines, including antibiotics and antivirals, without a doctor’s visit.

“The pharmacist would then be able to dispense an antibiotic from a list of approved, limited number of antibiotics and then the mother could go on her way,” Godwin said.

So far, both bills have passed one committee each and will go through one more committee before coming to a floor vote.