Kentucky Has A New Horse in the Race to Tackle the Flu

Pharmacists now authorized to deliver influenza diagnostic and treatment services in Kentucky
kentucky horse statue

With a new law in place, Kentucky pharmacies are now offering on-demand influenza services. 

This means it’s easy to bypass waiting for a doctor’s office appointment and just walk into a local pharmacy to be diagnosed and treated for influenza. 

During 2016, the Kentucky state legislature passed regulations that empower pharmacists to deliver professional services to patients, in conjunction with a doctor.   

The culmination of almost 2 years of collaborative effort was achieved this past December when the Health & Welfare & Family Services Interim Joint Committee of the Kentucky Legislature approved regulation 201 KAR 2:380.  

“We'll do a full assessment of the patient and then we will do the testing – either a throat swab or the nose swab for the flu,” said Doctor of Pharmacy Jennifer Baker, of the West Knox Pharmacy, as reported by WKYT.   

No appointment is necessary to be tested at the West Knox Pharmacy 

"At the most, this is a 20-minute visit. Which is awesome." 

But this program requires participating pharmacies to invest their time and money before delivering flu services. 

And, this Kentucky law requires pharmacies to gain the support of a prescribing physician and to complete a 20-hour certified training. 

“We got in on the training whenever they were offering it, and so that is why we are one of the first to do it in the state of Kentucky,” said Baker. 

“In just 2 days we tested 8 patients, and found 2 tested positive for Strep A which we were able to initiate an Rx for Amoxicillin.” 

“All West Knox Pharmacy patients were in & out in about 20 minutes & were very pleased with the service & cost,” said Jennifer Baker, PharmD.

Trish Rippetoe Freeman, RPh, Ph.D., director of the Center for the Advancement of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Kentucky, said to Loren Bonner, senior editor, APHA, “Right now, we want to give pharmacists time to find prescribers to enter into the protocol agreements with and really start implementing this and then see if we need to make other changes in the regulation before we go and try to amend it.” 

In Kentucky, pharmacists have collaborated with doctors to provide immunization services for several years.   

Kentucky pharmacists work in multiple environments, such as community, hospitals, long-term care, clinics, retail stores, and consult with other providers to coordinate a patient’s care. 

The Kentucky Pharmacists Association (KPhA) is leading the effort to make sure pharmacists have the needed training, tools, and resources to successfully carry out these new services.   

Dr. Freeman, who is also chairman of KPhA’s Board of Directors, said ‘working collaboratively with doctors is key to establishing the new regulation.’   

“We are hoping by this time next year 20 percent of the commonwealth’s pharmacies will be able to offer the new services to help cut back on urgent care and emergency room visits,” said Dr. Freeman.   

‘They say it will save patients money and time spent in the waiting room.’ 

The Kentucky Pharmacists Association is the largest professional organization representing pharmacists in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and has been serving its members since 1879.