Senator Jane Nelson
P.O. Box 12068, State Capitol
Austin, Texas 78711
Tel. (512) 463-0112
Fax (512) 463-0923

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 1999
Contact: Dave Nelson
(512) 463-0112

SENATE VOTES TO STOP PRESCRIPTION ERRORS IN PHARMACIES

AUSTIN - The Senate today approved Senate Bill 1889, which was filed by State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, in response to a string of lawsuits against pharmacy chains for prescription errors that have caused serious injury, and in some cases death. Representative Patricia Gray, Chair of the House Committee on Public Health, is the House sponsor.

The bill targets an estimated 60,000 pharmacy technicians working in Texas, only an estimated 3,900 of whom have passed the national certification exam. Several lawsuits allege that these technicians, many of which are teen-agers, are handling sensitive tasks such as labeling and filling prescriptions without proper training.

Under Senate Bill 1889, all pharmacy technicians must be registered and certified by 2001, and registration fees will be used to beef up the inspections unit of the Texas Board of Pharmacy. Additionally, the bill requires that technicians only perform nonjudgmental duties (no labeling or filling of prescriptions) and that only two technicians per supervising pharmacist be on duty behind the counter.

The bill also requires that all lawsuits filed against pharmacies, pharmacists or insurers be reported to the Board and that the Board investigate any entity targeted in three or more claims over a five-year period.

"It's a sad state of affairs when someone working in a photo lab is receiving more training than someone handling medication," Senator Nelson said. "Texans should be able to walk into any pharmacy in the state and leave with the confidence that what's inside their prescription bottle is actually what their doctor prescribed."

Senator Nelson represents Senate District 12, which includes Dallas, Denton, Ellis and Tarrant counties. She chairs the Senate Health Services Committee.

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