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Under current U.S. laws, only doctors and nurse practitioners can write prescriptions, but a limited contract between the Washington State Department of Health and pharmacy agencies to allow pharmacists there to prescribe antivirals in the event of a flu pandemic marks a major expansion of the role of community pharmacists in the United States.
Under a policy that the United Kingdom’s National Health Service adopted a few years ago, pharmacists can diagnose a number of conditions and write prescriptions, and the former British territory of Hong Kong allows pharmacists to write prescriptions as well. The Canadian province of British Columbia allows pharmacists to write prescriptions, and Price Edward Island recently adopted rules allowing them to issue renewals.
The plan in Washington is limited to the state and comes with a host of conditions, but along with pharmacists around the country being allowed to administer vaccinations, it’s a sign that the role of the community pharmacist is going far beyond dispensing.