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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 24H: Rehabilitation program for registered pharmacists and pharmacy interns and technicians with substance use issue

Section 24H. (a) The board of registration in pharmacy shall establish a rehabilitation program for registered pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians who have a substance use issue.

(b) The rehabilitation program shall: (i) serve as a voluntary alternative to traditional disciplinary actions; (ii) establish criteria for the acceptance, denial or termination of registered pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians in the program; and (iii) establish an outreach program to identify registered pharmacists, pharmacy interns and pharmacy technicians who may have a substance use disorder and to provide education about the rehabilitation program.

Only a registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician who has requested rehabilitation and supervision shall be eligible to participate in the program.

(c) The board shall appoint a rehabilitation evaluation committee, 2 of whom shall be registered pharmacists with demonstrated experience in the field of substance use disorders, 1 of whom shall be a medical doctor with experience in the treatment of substance use disorders, 1 of whom shall be a pharmacy technician with demonstrated experience in the field of substance use disorders, 1 of whom shall be a registered pharmacist who has recovered from drug or alcohol addiction and has been drug and alcohol free for a minimum of 5 years and 2 of whom shall be representatives of the public who are knowledgeable about substance use disorders or mental health. Three members of the committee shall constitute a quorum. The committee shall elect a chairperson and a vice chairperson. Members of the committee shall serve for terms of 4 years. At the time of appointment or reappointment to the committee, no member of the committee who is licensed to practice by the department of public health, division of professional licensure or by the board of registration in medicine shall have had any type of disciplinary or enforcement action taken against them by their respective licensing board, the United States Food and Drug Administration or the United States Drug Enforcement Administration during the 5 years preceding their appointment to the committee. No member of the board of registration in pharmacy shall serve on the committee. Meetings of the committee shall not be subject to sections 18 to 25, inclusive, of chapter 30A.

(d) The board shall employ a pharmacist supervisor with demonstrated professional expertise in the field of substance use disorders to oversee participants in the rehabilitation program. The supervisor shall serve as a liaison among the board, the committee, approved treatment programs and providers and participants. Following consultation with members of the committee, the supervisor may authorize and implement changes to a participant's individualized rehabilitation program based on information that the supervisor may receive concerning a participant's failure to comply with the participant's individualized rehabilitation program as necessary to protect public health, safety and welfare; provided, however, that the changes shall remain in effect until review by the board takes place. Any information obtained by a supervisor pursuant to this section shall be exempt from disclosure and shall be confidential, subject to subsections (f) and (g).

(e) All rehabilitation evaluation committee findings shall be submitted to the board as recommendations and shall be subject to final approval of the board. The committee shall have the following duties and responsibilities:

(i) to evaluate, according to guidelines established by the board, registered pharmacists, pharmacy interns or pharmacy technicians who request to participate in the program and consider the recommendations of the pharmacist supervisor regarding the admission of a registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician into the program;

(ii) to review and designate treatment facilities and services to which participants may be referred;

(iii) to receive and review information concerning a participant in the program;

(iv) to consider, for each participant, whether the participant may continue or may resume practice within the full scope of the participant's license;

(v) to call meetings as necessary to review the request of a registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician to participate in the program and review reports regarding participants;

(vi) to prepare reports to be submitted to the board;

(vii) to provide each participant with an individualized rehabilitation plan with requirements for supervision and surveillance; and

(viii) to provide information to pharmacists, pharmacy interns or pharmacy technicians who request to participate in the program.

(f) A registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician who requests to participate in the program shall agree to cooperate with the individualized rehabilitation plan recommended by the rehabilitation evaluation committee and approved by the board. Any failure to comply with the rehabilitation program may result in termination of the participant from the rehabilitation program. The committee shall report to the board the name and license number of a registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician terminated from the program for failure to comply with the provisions of an individualized rehabilitation plan.

(g) After the committee, in its discretion, has determined that a registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician has successfully completed an individualized rehabilitation plan through the program, the board shall seal all records pertaining to the participation of the registered pharmacist, pharmacy intern or pharmacy technician in the program; provided, however, that no record shall be sealed sooner than 5 years from the participant's date of entry into the program. All board and committee records and records of a participant's involvement in the program shall be kept confidential and shall not be subject to discovery or subpoena in any civil, criminal, legislative or administrative proceeding without the prior written consent of the participant.