Out of the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, one is that no individual or group is an island. And this adage was reinforced for our member boards of pharmacy when the pandemic first tightened its grip in March 2020. Many contacted us for tips on handling stay-at-home orders, COVID-19 testing and treatment, licensing, and much more. It became clear that boards needed a trusted, centralized source of information for applying federal guidelines on a state-by-state basis.
Thus, the Federal Affairs Department was born, and our existing Member Relations and Government Affairs (MRGA) Department was strengthened. The former focuses on national pharmacy trends affecting our member boards, while the latter provides specific tools for implementing those trends on a state-based level.
We now have two NABP teams dedicated to
- monitoring national pharmacy regulation issues,
- helping boards implement those regulations in a way that works uniquely for them, and
- ensuring that lawmakers give pharmacists the legislative tools they need to do their jobs.
Create or enhance programs and services that streamline the boards’ processes and aid them in their protection of public health. Here are just a few ways that we’re keeping our members’ needs at the forefront.
Supporting Passage of the MAT Act
This started with the presidential initiative of NABP Chairperson President Timothy D. Fensky, RPh, DPh, FACA, which encouraged expanding access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid use disorder. One way to do this is through amending current federal law to expand the number of providers that can prescribe buprenorphine. That’s where the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act (S. 445/H.R. 1384) comes in. It would remove a federal requirement that currently prevents states from authorizing pharmacists to prescribe these medications. The Federal Affairs Department has been working with the bills’ sponsors, including Representative Paul D. Tonko (D-NY), to urge Congress to pass this vital piece of legislation.
Ensuring Drug Importation Safety
This year, several states are set to implement FDA’s final rule that allows the establishment of wholesale prescription drug importation programs from Canada. Last year, we sent a letter to our member boards stressing the importance of ensuring medication integrity within these new supply chains, especially given the possibility that criminals could exploit them at the expense of patient safety. The presidential initiative of NABP President Caroline D. Juran, BSPharm, DPh (Hon), pledges to work through the Federal Affairs and MRGA departments to help states that set up these programs navigate the inherent regulatory complexities.
Improving Compounding Oversight
Our partnership with FDA for its Compounding Pharmacy Information Sharing Project is a joint effort of both the Federal Affairs and MRGA departments. Aimed at improving compounding pharmacy oversight in the aftermath of the 2012 New England Compounding Center disaster, the project provides boards of pharmacy with an Information Sharing Network and other tools to ease compliance with new compounding pharmacy reporting requirements. You can read more details about the project in this blog post. The Federal Affairs Department works with FDA to ensure the project’s overall goals are met, while MRGA makes sure the compliance needs for each board are heard.
These new programs provide a glimpse at what the Federal Affairs and MRGA departments do to support the boards in their mission to protect public health. We have our fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing pharmacy landscape, constantly collaborating with members as well as state and federal officials. We hope that boards feel free to contact our staff so we can ensure that their unique needs are met. Email us any time. We’re here to listen.