The Continuum of Pharmacist Prescriptive Authority

Ann Pharmacother. 2016 Sep;50(9):778-84. doi: 10.1177/1060028016653608. Epub 2016 Jun 15.


Recently momentum has been building behind pharmacist prescriptive authority for certain products such as oral contraceptives or naloxone. To some, prescriptive authority by pharmacists represents a departure from the traditional role of pharmacists in dispensing medications. Nearly all states, however, currently enable pharmacist prescriptive authority in some form or fashion. The variety of different state approaches makes it difficult for pharmacists to ascertain the pros and cons of different models. We leverage data available from the National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA), a trade association that tracks pharmacy legislation and regulations across all states, to characterize models of pharmacist prescriptive authority along a continuum from most restrictive to least restrictive. We identify 2 primary categories of current pharmacist prescriptive authority: (1) collaborative prescribing and (2) autonomous prescribing. Collaborative prescribing models provide a broad framework for the treatment of acute or chronic disease. Current autonomous prescribing models have focused on a limited range of medications for which a specific diagnosis is not needed. Approaches to pharmacist prescriptive authority are not mutually exclusive. We anticipate that more states will pursue the less-restrictive approaches in the years ahead.

Keywords: collaborative practice agreement; prescriptive authority; pharmacy; scope of practice.

MeSH terms

  • Drug Prescriptions* / standards
  • Humans
  • Interprofessional Relations
  • Legislation, Drug / trends*
  • Legislation, Pharmacy / trends*
  • Pharmaceutical Services / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pharmaceutical Services / standards
  • Pharmaceutical Services / trends
  • Pharmacists / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Pharmacists / psychology
  • Pharmacists / trends
  • Professional Autonomy
  • Professional Role*
  • United States