SACRAMENTO, CA – Last night Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 690, authored by Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry (D-Winters). Assembly Bill 690 will increase access to pharmacy care in vulnerable and rural areas of California, by authorizing the use of telepharmacy in medically underserved areas and streamlining the process for pharmacies to reopen after a natural disaster. The bill contains an urgency clause, which means its provisions go into effect immediately.
“People living in pharmacy-deprived areas, whether rural or urban, face many barriers to obtaining comprehensive medical care,” said Aguiar-Curry. “Telepharmacy is a proven model to provide enhanced care that is both safe and effective.”
In 2017, Assemblymember Aguiar-Curry authored AB 401, which legalized the use of telepharmacy technology in California for the first time. However, although this law was passed two years ago, the Board of Pharmacy had as yet been unable to implement the law. Therefore, telepharmacy still has not been used in the state. AB 690 addresses this delay by codifying the qualifications required for a pharmacy technician to work in a remote dispensing pharmacy. By changing the law rather than waiting for the regulatory process, perhaps years, the use of telepharmacy in California can begin immediately.
According to Aguiar-Curry, “My constituents in small towns and rural communities sometimes face real hardship needing to access pharmacies many miles away. This telepharmacy law will provide access to opportunities for better patient education, make it easier for patients to follow schedules for their medications, and result in better health for Californians.”
The second piece of AB 690 streamlines the process for a pharmacy that is destroyed or damaged in a natural disaster to relocate and reopen. Currently, pharmacists whose businesses are destroyed or damaged during a disaster are required to completely re-apply for a pharmacy license in order to reopen their businesses, as if the pharmacy were brand new. AB 690 would allow for these impacted pharmacies to quickly relocate and reopen following an emergency. This is of critical importance, so that patients can have continuity in their pharmacy care and independent pharmacists can get their businesses back up and running.
“During the Camp Fire in 2018, five pharmacies were closed due to significant fire damage. I deeply appreciate the Board of Pharmacy, and pharmacy employee groups and other stakeholders for working with me to allow a speedier recovery of pharmacy services for victims of wildfire and other disasters. We’ve learned a lot over the past several years that instructed us all on how to develop solid policy,” said Aguiar-Curry. “I am excited that Governor Newsom recognizes the importance of access to pharmacy care for California’s smaller communities, and the added value that telepharmacy can provide to Californians with health and mobility challenges.”
Aguiar-Curry represents the 4th Assembly District, which includes all of Lake and Napa Counties, parts of Colusa, Solano and Sonoma Counties, and all of Yolo County except West Sacramento.