Pharmacists would have power to dispense vaccines under proposed law

By Taylor Brown

 INDIANAPOLIS – Legislators are hoping a bill that would give pharmacist the authority to dispense certain drugs will increase the rate of immunizations and decrease the number of smokers in Indiana.

House Bill 1540 would allow the state health commissioner or designated public health authority to issues a statewide standing order, prescription or protocol that allows a pharmacists to dispense certain immunizations or a smoking cessation product.

Karen Hodmon, a professor at the Purdue School of Pharmacy, urged senators to support house Bill 1540. Hodmon said allowing pharmacists the ability to council people who want to stop smoking will help them be more successful in quitting. Photo by Taylor Brown,

“The side effects in a given person will be the same regardless of whether that medication is recommended by a physician, a pharmacist, a nurse or anyone else,” Karen Hodmon, professor at the Purdue school of pharmacy, said. She testified before the Senate’s Family and Children Services committee on Monday where the bill passed by a unanimous vote.

Nick Sloffer, a pharmacist and pharmacy coordinator with Kroger, said that this legislation could help expand the immunizations to meet the public health needs that aren’t being met. Sloffer pointed out the situations such as the 2012 measles outbreak after the Super Bowl, 2015 with the HIV outbreak in Scott County and the mumps outbreak on Butler, Purdue and IU campuses last year. Sloffer said if the commissioner had the power to allow pharmacists to give these vaccines at the time, they could’ve increased vaccine rates because they would be more accessible.

“We don’t know what the next case, what the next thing is going to be. But we can be more ready for it with House Bill 1540,” Sloffer said.

Besides vaccines, the bill also has a provision to help people to stop smoking.

Scott Gartenman, director of health policy for the Indiana State Medical Association, encouraged senators to rise in opposition of House Bill 1540. Gartenman said he couldn’t support a bill that allowed someone to get a prescription without visiting with a doctor, Photo by Taylor Brown,

Hodmon said that using medication to quit smoking greatly increases someone’s chances of being successful. The most successful medication is Chantix, which is only available through a prescription by a doctor. Rep. Steve Davisson, R-Salem, author of the bill, said that physicians don’t have the time to address Indiana’s smoking issue.

“It’s one of the biggest issues in our state is trying to reduce smoking. Physicians have been working on this for years and they haven’t gotten it down,” Davisson said.

Not everyone is in support of the bill. Scott Gartenman, director of health policy of the Indiana State Medical Association, said they oppose the bill because of the smoking cessation section.

“This isn’t an issue about providing care. This is an issue about the quality of care being provided,” Gartenman said.

Gartenman said he doesn’t like the idea of someone being able to receive a prescription without seeing a doctor. He said that patients should have a full medical examination by a doctor who knows their medical history. Patients would then have a better chance of knowing how the medicine would affect them.

The bill will now move to the full Senate for further consideration. The pharmacists who testified in the committee remain hopeful that it will become law.

“Indiana desperately needs more health care providers to be involved. Pharmacy is prepared. We are ready,” Hodmon said.

Taylor Brown is a reporter for, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

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