Pharmaceutical education and AACP frequently have been on the
cutting edge of leadership within the pharmacy profession. Generally
such leadership was exercised by virtue of educationís ability
to dissect and analyze important issues, separate fact from emotion,
and present issues so that they are understandable. At other
times, educationís contributions have been through articulating a
new theme on a long-held vision. Sometimes, itís been both. The
issue of prescriptive authority by pharmacists is a case in point.
For years, the profession has been ambivalent on the matter of
pharmacists having the independent authority to prescribe drugs.
Authority to prescribe medications has been viewed by many
health professionals as the sine qua non of independent status
within the health care community. Hence nurse practitioners,
optometrists, dentists, and a variety of other professions have
sought and received authority from their respective states to
prescribe medicines. Pharmacists, naturally, have looked at such
accomplishments and many wondered why they also should not
have similar independent authority. Long-standing debates related
to reclassification (third or fourth class of drugs) and therapeutic
substitution/interchange have been variations on this theme.