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9/5/2000

Congress to Investigate Pharmacist Shortage

Katherine M. Bennett

Legislation passed by Congress last fall authorizes the Public Health Service to study whether a pharmacist shortage exists. The National Association of Drug Stores lobbied vigorously for the bill. Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.), who offered an amendment to the Health Research and Quality Act of 1999 authorizing the study, expressed concern that a shortage of pharmacists might create a "major health crisis." McGovern also noted that pharmacists are an information resource for consumers and their families and "serve as a valuable link between patients and their doctors." ASHP has drafted a letter to Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala that illustrates elements of the pharmacy infrastructure, including the use of automation and the role of technicians, that should be included in the study.