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October 29, 2007

Gov. Blagojevich signs law to improve consumer services at Illinois pharmacies
SB 509 expands patient options and streamlines prescription reviews

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law that completely overhauls the pharmacy regulations for all Illinois pharmacies and pharmacists, and improves consumer services.  Senate Bill 509, re-writes the Pharmacy Practice Act which has remained relatively unchanged since 1987.  The changes reflect the growing importance of the role pharmacists play in providing care to Illinois families.  The bill was sponsored by State Senator Terry Link (D-Lake Bluff) and State Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock).
“We depend on pharmacists to give us guidance about medicines, advice on how and when to take prescription drugs and, above all, fill the prescriptions doctors order quickly, accurately, and efficiently.  The changes in this law make it easier for pharmacists to provide the professional services we need to improve our health,” said Gov. Blagojevich.
Some of the more significant improvements will allow pharmacists to work more closely with physicians in providing healthcare at the convenience and savings of Illinois patients; pharmacists will also be able to work in close cooperation with doctors to provide immunization services, Medication Therapy Management services, and utilize advanced technology to provide patient care records by using a common database. 
The bill also allows retail pharmacies to establish stand-alone kiosks within the store.  When the pharmacy counter is particularly busy, customers may pick up prescriptions without waiting in line.  Patients using the kiosks will also have immediate access to a pharmacist, either by phone or online if they have questions about their prescription or the instructions.  The Act outlines specific safety and security requirements to ensure safe delivery of prescription medication to the public.
In another effort to improve customer service, the Act gives pharmacy chains options to more quickly and efficiently fill patient prescriptions when the pharmacy is very busy by permitting prescription orders to be filled at a central location and then delivered back to the pharmacy where the patient brought their prescription.  
“The new law recognizes the challenges that our profession has seen in the past 20 years. The law ensures that pharmacists are recognized as healthcare providers and dedicated to the improvement and increased access to the health care system in Illinois,” said Michael Patton, Illinois Pharmacists Assoc.
To make sure patients are assisted by trained professionals, either at a kiosk or at the pharmacy counter, the law helps to relieve the chronic pharmacist shortage in Illinois by creating a simpler way for qualified pharmacists from outside the state and outside the country to obtain Illinois licensure.   It also raises the standards for registration as a pharmacy technician to reflect the greater role pharmacy technicians are playing in the provision of pharmacy care.
Finally, the law expands the ability for state regulators to investigate and discipline pharmacists for failure to provide the highest quality care to Illinois families. It establishes that a civil penalty of up to $10,000 may be imposed for any violation of the act or for any unlicensed practice. Clarifies the disciplinary section and brings it into conformance with the Department’s other licensing acts. Clarifies and expands the Department’s ability to subpoena books, records, and other documentation in the course of an investigation of violations of the act.
SB 509 becomes effective immediately.


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