An Illinois House bill is looking to reduce prescription drug errors in pharmacies by introducing legislation that eases some of the pressures of working in a pharmacy. The Chicago Tribune reports that the bill, proposed by Rep. Mary Flowers, aims to address workplace issues that may contribute to mistakes.
Under the proposal, pharmacists would be restricted to an 8-hour shift that could be adjusted in the event of extenuating circumstances. Pharmacists would also be required to take a minimum of 2, 15-minute breaks and 1, 30-minute meal period within a workday of at least 7 hours. The bill also proposes a limit on the number of prescriptions that pharmacists can fill each hour, banning activities such as promotional requirements and productivity quotes that may distract or overwhelm pharmacists on the job. Flowers also added whistleblower protections to the bill, which would protect pharmacists who expose safety issues at their drugstore.
According to the Chicago Tribune, pro-business pharmacy lobbyists have already begun opposing the bill. Illinois governor Bruce Rauner also expressed concerns that limiting pharmacists’ hours might raise costs without increasing safety. The governor recently proposed a rule that requires pharmacists to counsel individuals buying a medication for the first time or when changing prescriptions. He also intends to use “mystery shoppers” to ensure pharmacies are adhering to Illinois standards and following established safety measures.
The Tribune reported that Garth Reynolds, the executive director of the Illinois Pharmacists Association, opposed the legislation’s reforms. He argued that provisions such as the prescription limit are unnecessary, and may cause problems if a patient comes in to fill multiple prescriptions at once that reach beyond the required limit, shorting other patients who may be waiting for prescriptions.
Other states vary on pharmacist regulations, with different rules on working hours and break times. Minnesota introduced a rule that allows for a 30-minute, uninterrupted meal break for pharmacists working over 6 hours and bans shift of 12 or more consecutive hours. The rule is expected to go into effect on July 1.