This PharmD Candidate Took Pharmacy Law into Her Own Hands

Laws and regulations govern every pharmacist’s workday. You are probably familiar with many of them, which range from patient counseling requirements to opioid-dispensing practices. Maybe they felt burdensome. Maybe just downright confusing. Maybe you didn’t know you could help shape them.

Poised to receive her PharmD in 2019, Sara Whitt, a student at University of Utah College of Pharmacy, knew that laws and regulations would soon rule her own career, and she set out to learn more about the process of creating them. She took advantage of the College of Pharmacy’s Pharmacy Advocacy & Leadership (PAL) Rotation, where she interned for Senator Evan J. Vickers, RPh, for four weeks in February and March. For two weeks after that, she visited various pharmacy organizations, such as the Utah Board of Pharmacy, to learn more about the development of pharmacy policy on both state and national levels. She even spent a day with us at NABP headquarters.

As Sara learned, behind every law and regulation is a lengthy process of negotiation and consensus-building with all stakeholders. And the voice of the individual is louder than you might think.

“Pharmacy is a profession that is evolving, and just as the practice evolves so does the regulation,” Sara says. “Policy and legislation can be shaped by the knowledge, expertise, and outlook of an individual.”

In Senator Vickers’ office, Sara shepherded SB 264, Medical Treatment Authorization Amendments, into its final form. She organized meetings with stakeholders such as insurers, pharmacy benefit managers, and prescribers, incorporating their feedback into each draft of the bill.

Weeks of this give-and-take culminated in the passage of the bill on the Senate floor, 26-0 in favor, with 3 senators absent. The bill went on to the state House where it was passed and eventually signed into law on March 27.

“One voice can make a difference,” Sara says. “Things can change. If you let your voice be heard, you can have an impact on things.”

This is true whether that voice is a new graduate embarking upon her pharmacy career, or a seasoned veteran with his own practice. You can apply your knowledge and experience to advance policies that protect patients in ways big and small. Write a letter to your legislator. Find out how to become a member of your state board of pharmacy. Volunteer to participate on a committee of a pharmacy professional organization. You have options.