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Position Statements

Statements Adopted by the Board

Statement on Immunization Services Under DHHS Guidance

November 30, 2020
On October 20, 2020, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (DHHS) issued the third amendment to a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (or PREP Act). This declaration provides liability protection and authorizes both qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns acting under the supervision of a qualified pharmacist to administer FDA-authorized or FDA-licensed COVID-19 vaccines to persons ages three or older and to administer FDA-authorized or FDA-licensed ACIP-recommended vaccines to persons ages three through 18 according to ACIP’s standard immunization schedule. The DHHS guidance lists requirements that qualified pharmacy technicians and State-authorized pharmacy interns must satisfy.
The declaration states that the authorization preempts any state and local law that prohibits or effectively prohibits those who satisfy requirements as set forth in the declaration from administering COVID-19 or routine childhood vaccines. The Oregon Board of Pharmacy will not take disciplinary action against persons who act in accordance with this DHHS guidance considering DHHS’s position that state law is preempted. The Board does not take a position on whether DHHS’s position on the preemption of state law is valid. If a complaint is received relating to activities covered under DHHS guidance, the Board will expect the licensee to provide documentation of full compliance. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action.

Statement Regarding Sterile Syringe Access and Harm Reduction

Adopted February 2018
There is an opioid, heroin and methamphetamine crisis occurring across Oregon and the US. Evidence shows that access to sterile syringes and naloxone are effective strategies to reduce negative health outcomes and the spread of disease related to injection drug use, including HIV, Hepatitis B and C and overdose. Reuse of syringes is common when new syringes are unavailable; this increases intravenous drug users (IDUs) risk of infections and communicable diseases. 

Oregon was the first state to squarely face the question of syringe access as a public health measure. Prior to 1987, syringe sales were not regulated. In that year, the legislature passed a paraphernalia law based on the model statute but heeded the advice of state health officials to explicitly exclude syringes from the definition of paraphernalia (ORS 475.525(3)). In Oregon, it is therefore legal to sell syringes not only in pharmacies but also in other retail outlets, and to distribute them free through Syringe Exchange Programs (SEPs) or other mechanisms. Of note, the sale of syringes in Oregon does not require a prescription. However, a pharmacist must use good professional judgment when selling syringes to minors (individuals less than 18 years of age) see ORS 475.744. The Oregon approach has minimized the legal barriers to syringe access.  

Public health studies have proven legal syringe access reduces syringe reuse and sharing, does not promote injection drug use, and does not increase criminal activity in surrounding areas. When pharmacies or pharmacists choose to directly or indirectly restrict syringe sales to IDUs, or to not carry naloxone, the opportunity to decrease or prevent individual and community harm from addiction and injection drug use are lost. 

The Board recommends and encourages pharmacies and pharmacists to increase access of sterile syringes and naloxone to the public. Pharmacies are important public health partners for infectious disease and drug overdose prevention. Existing laws in Oregon have positioned pharmacies and pharmacists to support public health efforts to increase community member access to sterile syringes and naloxone, deliver health education, and refer IDUs to local health care and recovery services. Removing the stigma of selling sterile syringes and prescribing and dispensing naloxone will improve patient care in the short and long term. 

Statement Regarding Cultural Competency Continuing Education

Adopted August 2014
The Oregon Board of Pharmacy is charged with preserving and protecting the health of our state’s citizens in the delivery of pharmacy related healthcare. Oregonians are growing increasingly diverse, and inequities in access to quality health care are apparent according to the Oregon Health Authority’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. The Office has identified that racial and ethnic populations, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities, low literacy level individuals and rural Oregonians experience health disparities. The Board believes that increasing understanding and awareness of the necessity to provide culturally competent health care is a patient safety priority.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) speaks to the critical importance of healthcare practitioner’s awareness and competency in equal care given to patients across cultural lines. The NIH provides the following background to define Cultural Competence: 
  • Culture is often described as the combination of a body of knowledge, a body of belief and a body of behavior. It involves a number of elements, including personal identification, language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions that are often specific to ethnic, racial, religious, geographic, or social groups. For the provider of health information or health care, these elements influence beliefs and belief systems surrounding health, healing, wellness, illness, disease, and delivery of health services. The concept of cultural competency has a positive effect on patient care delivery by enabling providers to deliver services that are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and cultural and linguistic needs of diverse patients.
Cultural competency continuing education is a life-long process of examining values and beliefs while developing and applying an inclusive approach to health care practice in a manner that recognizes the context and complexities of provider-patient interactions and preserves the dignity of individuals, families and communities. Continuing education in cultural competency should teach attitudes, knowledge and skills to care effectively for patients from diverse cultures, groups and communities. The Office of Equity and Inclusion states that such training enables health care providers to work effectively in cross-cultural situations.
The Board recommends and encourages licensees to pursue ongoing continuing education opportunities for cultural competency. For purposes of maintenance of licensure, the Board considers continuing education (CE) in cultural competency to be relevant to the current practice of all licensees, and licensees may use this type of continuing education toward satisfying the required CE hours for license renewal. The Board will document licensees’ voluntary participation in cultural competency CE through the license renewal process beginning in 2015.
In order for Oregon to achieve the triple aim of improving health, improving care, and lowering cost, providers must be responsive to the needs of diverse populations. Cultural competency training for health care providers is one method for helping Board licensees adapt to the needs of Oregon’s socially and culturally diverse communities.

Statement Regarding Optimizing Patient Safety & Reducing Medication Errors in Oregon 

Adopted October 2008
Beginning in 2000, in response to the number of medication errors and medication distribution issues, state boards of pharmacy across the country began to convene committees and work groups to research and report back to the boards about ways to reduce medication errors. In response to the Oregon Board of Pharmacy’s interest in promoting an awareness of and ultimately a decrease in medication errors, the Board convened its Medication Error Reduction – Patient Safety Research Council. 
The charge of Oregon’s 12-member multi-disciplinary Research Council was to investigate procedures designed to reduce medication errors and evaluate the role the Board currently plays in supporting medication error reduction efforts. The Research Council was also asked to recommend measures the Board could take to improve patient safety through medication error reduction programs in the state. The Research Council has developed a document that reflects optimum standards for providing patient care in today’s pharmacies. While the document is not intended to be a comprehensive list of goals that are completely achievable on a continual basis, it does suggest a number of specific procedures that can be implemented in pharmacy practice settings in an effort to enhance existing quality improvement programs.  This list is not exclusive of other improvements and may be supplemented by the Board from time to time.
Optimizing Patient Safety and Reducing Medication Errors, the 23-point document developed by the Research Council, was based on a review of current literature and work done in other states. The recommendations have been modified and edited specifically for use in Oregon pharmacies. The Board would like to acknowledge the work done by the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy’s 2007-08 Task Force on Continuous Quality Improvement, Peer Review, and Inspecting for Patient Safety, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy, and The Institute for Safe Medication Practices. 
It is the Board’s position that all pharmacies and pharmacists should review these recommendations as a high priority and should consider implementation of those measures that are appropriate to the particular pharmacy setting. The Board believes that adoption and institution of these practices will lead to optimal patient safety through enhanced pharmacy medication delivery systems, improved performance generally and, ultimately, a significant reduction in medication errors.
Statement Regarding Considering Moral and Ethical Objections

Revised February 2007 
No provision exists within Oregon pharmacy laws or regulations that require a pharmacist to dispense every lawful prescription presented in a pharmacy. Indeed, pharmacy laws and regulations require a pharmacist to delay the dispensing of a prescription when faced with questions of potential harm to a patient or concerns of clinical appropriateness of a drug, a dose, or a dosage form for a particular patient. Pharmacists are required to seek clarification prior to dispensing and to collaborate with prescribing practitioners in the patient's best interest.
Just as other health care professionals and practitioners in Oregon have a choice, so do pharmacists have a choice whether or not to participate in activities they find morally or ethically objectionable. Oregon pharmacists cannot however, interfere with a patient's lawfully and appropriately prescribed drug therapy or request for drugs and devices approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for restricted distribution by pharmacies. Pharmacists enter into relationships with patients in the daily course of normal pharmacy practice. Within these relationships pharmacists have a duty to provide professional pharmaceutical care in the patient's interest.
The Board of Pharmacy expects each Oregon Pharmacist-in-Charge (PIC) to adopt written policies and procedures that address the issues of pharmacists' moral, ethical and professional responsibilities. It is the Board's belief that pharmacy policies and procedures could allow a pharmacist to exercise his or her choice to not participate, and at the same time not interfere with the patient's right to receive appropriate and lawfully prescribed drug therapy or drugs and devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies. These may include dispensing of the prescription or drug or device by another pharmacist on site or arranging for the prescription to be dispensed by a pharmacist at another site. The Board also expects Oregon pharmacists to discuss issues of moral, ethical and professional responsibilities with their Pharmacist-In-Charge and to understand and comply with the pharmacy’s policies and procedures.
The Board expects that pharmacy policies and procedures will ensure patients in Oregon always receive appropriate and lawfully prescribed medications and information or drugs and devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies in a timely and professional manner and that patients are not burdened by the pharmacist's individual beliefs. Interference with a patient’s right to receive timely, professional prescription services and information or drugs and devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies may be considered unprofessional conduct and could result in disciplinary action by the Board. (See “Clarification” below)
Position Statement History - Originally Adopted September 2005
For example, the Board would consider it unprofessional conduct for a pharmacist to lecture a patient about the pharmacist’s moral or religious beliefs, to violate the patient’s privacy or to destroy, confiscate or otherwise tamper with the patient’s prescription.
The written policy should require an objecting pharmacist to inform the PIC in advance so that the PIC can reasonably accommodate that objection before a patient presents a prescription or makes a request for drugs and devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies. The accommodation may not include permission to lecture the patient. The policy should also ensure that the patient's prescription or drug and device needs are met either by ordering the drug, if it is not in stock, pursuant to the usual pharmacy policies, by transferring or returning the prescription to the patient if the patient requests, or by referring the patient to another pharmacy nearby where the patient can get the prescription filled or receive drugs and devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies. In the event of a referral, the pharmacist is responsible for identifying another pharmacy that has the medication in stock and will dispense the prescription or dispense drugs or devices approved by the U.S. FDA for restricted distribution by pharmacies.
Pharmacists licensed in Oregon may seek clarification of questions or concerns about moral or ethical objections from the Board of Pharmacy. Patients who believe they have been inappropriately refused medication may file a complaint with the Board of Pharmacy. Information about the complaint process can be found here.

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