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Ballot Measure May Allow Big Box Retailers to Compete with North Dakota’s Locally-Owned Pharmacies

A ballot measure backed by the retail giants Wal-Mart and Walgreen’s aims to change a nearly 50-year-old law that requires North Dakota pharmacies be majority-owned by independent pharmacists. Since 1963, the North Dakota Pharmacy Ownership Law has barred hospitals, chain drug stores and any retail businesses without majority-ownership by local pharmacists from operating pharmacies in the state.

North Dakota’s pharmacy ownership law is the only one of its kind in the United States. Its unique provisions have allowed independently-owned pharmacies to thrive throughout the state. According to figures published by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), nearly 90 percent of North Dakota’s pharmacies are independently-owned and operated. By comparison, only around 30 percent of the pharmacies throughout the rest of the country operate under independent ownership.

With financial backing from Walgreen’s and Wal-Mart, the group North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare hopes to repeal the law through the passage of a ballot measure in the upcoming November election. After months of petitioning North Dakota voters, the group confirms it has exceeded the amount of signatures required to have their initiative placed on the state’s 2010 election ballot.

According to the group’s website, the pharmacy ownership law unfairly restricts the sale of generic prescription drugs in North Dakota by non-pharmacist-owned businesses. As a result, the group claims, North Dakota residents continue to pay more for medications than consumers in other states.

Despite claims that the pharmacy ownership law prevents North Dakota prescription drug users from saving money, a 2009 report issued by ISLR found that repealing the law may actually cost the state millions in lost tax revenue and related economic activity. The report also said passage of the repeal would jeopardize local pharmacies that serve the state’s many rural communities.

Recent efforts by the North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare group aren’t the first attempt to overturn the pharmacy ownership law. The law was upheld by the United States Supreme Court in the 1970s and was the subject of an attempted repeal by members of the North Dakota State Legislature in 2009.

Although its pharmacy ownership laws are unique, North Dakota, like all other states, relies on the expertise of pharmacy professionals to provide valuable prescription-related services to its residents.

Throughout California, the demand for qualified professionals, like San Francisco pharmacy technicians, continues to grow. The state requires more Sacramento pharmacy technicians and PTs in other locations to assist consumers with their prescription medications. Now is a perfect time to pursue a career in this expanding field. Discover today how quality training from Unitek College can jumpstart your career as a Bay Area pharmacy technician.

For additional information on North Dakota’s Pharmacy Ownership Law and the opposing ballot initiative sponsored by North Dakotans for Affordable Healthcare, please visit:

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PTCB Certification Becoming More Important For Pharmacy Technicians

2008 has proven to be a very productive year for PTCB and pharmacy technicians nationwide. Earlier this year, PTCB reached the milestone of 300,000 pharmacy technicians certified by PTCB. Also this year, significant strides have been made on the legislative front to promote the important role of pharmacy technicians in ensuring patient safety. According to the 2008 NABP Survey of Pharmacy Law, 37 states regulate pharmacy technicians, with 28 states incorporating PTCB into their regulations in one of the following ways:

  1. As a requirement for pharmacy technician state registration or licensure.
  2. As one of the ways to meet state requirements for pharmacy technician registration or licensure.
  3. As a mechanism for expanded pharmacist to pharmacy technician ratios.

Since the beginning of 2008, three additional states-Kentucky, Nebraska, and most recently Florida have joined the growing number of states with regulations. This is good news for graduates of  Unitek College’s Pharmacy Technician training program, as we have a strong emphasis on PTCB.

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Why You Should Become A Pharmacy Technician

Pharmacy Technicians work under the supervision of registered pharmacists, assisting them with the filling of drug prescriptions, reviewing orders for dosages, allergies, incompatibilities and interactions. It is a job that requires an astute knowledge of chemistry, biology & math. A Pharmacy Technician often also interacts with the customers they service, so a Pharmacy Tech must be personable and patient when dealing with people who are sick and not necessary in the best frame of mind.

This is the perfect job for someone who enjoys multi-tasking and having different things to do each day they come into work. Some days you come in and you have lots of prescriptions to fill as well as long lines of customers to service. Conversely, there may also be those days when you are able to quickly fill the few prescriptions you have as well as service the handful of customers and then you are free to assist the registered pharmacist in other aspects of the laboratory.

Other things a Pharmacy Technician will get to do include mixing, measuring, packaging, and delivering medications as well as maintaining computerized lists of the medications in circulation and checking with the pharmacists before delivering any medication, to see whether those are the right drugs. They may also be called upon to clean and sterilize the instruments, transporting medication and pharmacy equipment to clinics and nursing units, answering various questions about non-drug products, or calling physicians’ offices for prescription refills.

There is no requirement for formal training or licensing as pharmacy technician. However, on-the-job training is less available nowadays, and employers prefer individuals who hold a pharmacy tech certification issued by a training institution. There is a voluntary exam that future pharmacy technicians can take, known as the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Examinations.

Do you know anyone right now who is a Pharmacy Technician? What have they said about their experiences?