Board of Pharmacy Undergoes Sunset Review

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By Stephanie Mendivil

On December 1, 2019, the Board of Pharmacy submitted its final Sunset Oversight Review Report (Volume 1, Volume 2) to the legislature. The Sunset Report updates the legislature on past sunset issues and outlines current issues facing the Board.

In its Sunset Oversight Review Report, the Board listed uniform standards for substance-abusing licensees as a current issue facing the Board. The Board reported that since SB 1441 (Ridley-Thomas) (Chapter 548, Statutes of 2008) standards were finalized, the Board has implemented new standards due to its licensees’ “proximity to dangerous drugs and controlled substances.” The Board reported that in February 2017, it adopted new disciplinary guidelines in accordance with SB 1441 standards. Since then, the Board reported that it has also adopted new standards relating to drug testing of licensees. The Board reports on its drug-testing findings at its meetings on a quarterly basis.

The Board’s Report also listed its Consumer Protection Enforcement Initiative (CPEI) as a current issue. The Board reported that its CPEI was “designed to ensure that investigations are completed and final action is taken against a licensee within 12 to 18 months . . . [via] policy changes designed to remove barriers to investigations, a new computer system that would meet the boards’ need to collect information and monitor performance, and additional staff resources.” The CPEI regulations took effect in 2014. The Board reported that it is continuing to identify timely barriers to investigations. In the Report, the Board proposed regaining authority from the legislature in the following areas, as it relates to investigations of licensees: (1) consideration of convictions of felony financial crimes; (2) consideration of acts that would be grounds for denial of federal registration to distribute controlled substances; (3) consideration of acts that involve fraud in violation of state or federal law related to health care; (4) consideration of convictions related to identity theft; and (5) consideration of convictions related to the sale of counterfeit products.

The final current issue the Board listed in its Report related to the BreEZe Online Services System, the Department of Consumer Affairs’ licensing and enforcement system. The Board reported that it was originally scheduled to be included in DCA’s second release of BreEZe but was removed from the release. The Board reported that it has initiated its own Business Modernization effort in order to “determine the specific needs of the [B]oard and identify feasible system alternatives.” As part of its Business Modernization plan, the Board reported that it has allowed individual licensees to submit payments and renew their licenses online. The Board reported that it will continue to assess opportunities for online transactions for which a fee is not required.

In preparation for the Board’s sunset hearing, legislative staff prepared a Background Paper addressing 24 current issues for the Board to respond to under the topics of administrative issues, fiscal issues, licensing issues, education and examination issues, enforcement issues, practice issues, implementation issues, technical cleanup, and continued regulation of the pharmacy profession by the California State Board of Pharmacy. Of note, the legislature seeks the Board’s insight about whether its composition is adequate and properly safeguards against potential anticompetitive conduct; whether its statute should be amended to clarify that the Executive Officer of the Board must be independent and not a licensee of the Board; several matters pertaining to the potential licensing of advanced practice pharmacists and pharmacy technicians; the recent subversion of the California Pharmacy Jurisprudence Examination; continued education for opioids, medication-assisted treatments, and pharmaceutical compounding.

The Board’s sunset hearing was originally scheduled for March 17, 2020. Due to the Governor’s statewide emergency declaration resulting from the impact of COVID-19, the hearing has been postponed. At this writing, a new hearing date has not been announced.

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