A new California law, signed by Governor Jerry Brown on October 1, 2013, will expand the scope of pharmacy practice within the state and improve patient access to care. The bill would establish board recognition for advanced practice pharmacists who, according to the National Community Pharmacists Association, will be able to do the following beginning January 1, 2014:

  • Perform patient assessments.
  • Order and interpret drug therapy-related laboratory tests.
  • Refer patients to other providers.
  • Initiate, adjust, and discontinue medications under physician protocol.
  • Work with other health care providers to evaluate and manage a patient’s health issues.

The law, SB 493, aims to address a growing shortage in primary care providers that is projected to increase with the expansion of the state’s Medi-Cal program under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which is expected to inject millions of newly insured Californians into the state’s health care system. The bill was part of a series of four laws that aimed to expand the scope of practice for optometrists, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other mid-level practitioners in order to alleviate the shortage. SB 493 is the second in the series to be signed into law.