Legislators struggle with new rules for certifying pharmacy techniciansPIERRE — Legislators reviewing the state Board of Pharmacy’s proposed new system for certifying technicians decided Tuesday to let the rules take effect but refused to endorse them.
By: Bob Mercer, Republic Capitol Bureau
PIERRE — Legislators reviewing the state Board of Pharmacy’s proposed new system for certifying technicians decided Tuesday to let the rules take effect but refused to endorse them.
Sen. Mike Vehle, R-Mitchell, cast the decisive vote.
The board plans to start requiring pharmacy technicians to receive national certification as a means of better protecting the public, but the board won’t mandate certification for the approximately 1,500 pharmacy technicians who were already registered as of July 1.
About 600 had certification, according to Randy Jones, the board’s executive director.
The legislators on the rules review committee refused to approve the plan and then split 3-2 on what to do.
Rep. Peggy Gibson, D-Huron, and Sen. Angie Buhl, D-Sioux Falls, wanted to send the rules back to the board for further work because they want all technicians to have certification.
But Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, and Sen. Jean Hunhoff, R-Yankton, said the board was trying to find a compromise acceptable to the currently registered technicians, who didn’t need to be certified under the old regulations.
Vehle sided with Hunt and Hunhoff.
Vehle said he didn’t like the compromise but noted that the board correctly followed the rule-making process. He said the board needs to set a goal of 100 percent certification and encourage all technicians to work toward it.
Jones said many pharmacies have technicians who don’t want to meet the new requirement.
They might leave for other jobs if they are forced into complying with a regulation that wasn’t in effect when they started, he said.
“People with a certain amount of tenure, we don’t see as a risk, because they have been trained,” Jones said.
Hunt said small communities might lose pharmacy services, at least on a temporary basis, if experienced technicians quit rather than go through certification.
“There’s a lot to be said for experience, and that experience through the grandfathering could be a plus,” Hunt said.
The legislators’ ultimate decision was to let the rules pass without recommendation.
That method has rarely been used by the committee.
“Board of Pharmacy, you’ve got your work cut out,” Hunhoff said.
The legislators also struggled over proposed rules for birthing centers, a new type of healthcare facility that was approved for use in South Dakota by the Legislature earlier this year.
State Department of Health official Tom Martinec (pronounced “martinez”) said the rule-making process was very difficult because of wide difference in perspective among people interested in how the centers will operate.
The legislators agreed at Martinec’s request to send one part of the rules back to the department for further work because of technical problems.