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The regulation of pharmacy technicians is one step closer

January 27, 2011

While no changes are effective immediately, the reality of pharmacy technician regulation is coming closer.  

On Dec. 2, 2008 the Health Professions Amendment Act (Bill 46) received royal assent. The bill, when it comes into effect, will recognize pharmacy technicians as regulated health professionals under the Alberta College of Pharmacists. The amendments provide the following role statement and restricted titles for pharmacy technicians:

Role statement:

In their practice, pharmacy technicians promote safe and effective drug distribution and, in relation to that, do one or more of the following under the direction of a pharmacist:

(a) receive, gather, enter and store prescription and patient information;

(b) store and repackage products;

(c) participate in the management of systems for drug distribution and inventory control;

(d) participate in the research, development, implementation and evaluation of quality assurance and risk management policies, procedures and activities;

(e) provide restricted activities authorized by the regulations;

(f) instruct patients about the use of health aids and devices; and

(g) teach the practice of pharmacy technicians.

Restricted titles:

  •  pharmacy technician
  •  pharmacy technologist
  •  dispensary technician
  •  dispensary technologist
  •  Pharm. Tech.
  •  Ph.T.
  •  R.Ph.T.

The role statement provides a broad description of the roles that pharmacy technicians will perform in the regulated environment. The roles of pharmacy technicians when compounding, dispensing and selling drugs are restricted activities that will be further defined through amendments to Pharmacists Profession Regulation.

The restricted titles will be reserved for, and can only be used by, pharmacy technicians regulated by the college. Further restriction on the use of these titles will be defined in the regulations.

Next steps

1. Defining roles

An inaugural meeting was held on Jan. 20, 2009 with Alberta Health and Wellness to discuss amendments to the Pharmacists Profession Regulation for the purpose of regulating pharmacy technicians. The “draft” analysis of the regulation completed by last year’s Pharmacy Technician Working Group will serve as a template for these discussions. Pharmacy technicians will be recognized as a new membership category in the regulation. Most of the processes established to regulate pharmacists are transferable to pharmacy technicians; therefore, we anticipate limited amendments.

The most significant discussions will focus on effectively defining the role of pharmacy technicians in performing restricted activities, and in defining supervision (particularly in regards to unregulated individuals).

2. Accrediting training programs

The Canadian Council on the Accreditation of Pharmacy Programs (CCAPP) has completed on-site assessments at four pharmacy technician training programs in Alberta. The program delivered by NorQuest College was the first program in Alberta to be accredited, and final results are being awaited for programs at three other institutions.

3. Establishing bridging programs

ACP continues to research opportunities with other provinces to share “bridging programs” to assist candidates in preparing for careers as regulated health professionals. All candidates will be required to successfully complete an entry to practice evaluation being developed by the Pharmaceutical Examining Board of Canada (PEBC). The goal is for the exam to first be administered sometime in 2010. This remains the rate-limiting step to establishing a target date for proclaiming and bringing into effect the amendments to legislation for regulating pharmacy technicians.

Look to future ACP publications for updates on pharmacy technician regulation.

Originally published in the January 27, 2011, issue of The Link