The Pharmacy Safety Net in California


Brett Penfil, Elizabeth Mertz

August 1, 2005

Driven by the aging population and the efficacy of drug therapy in the management of chronic disease, the increased use of pharmaceutical products has become the fastest growing, most dynamic part of the health care system. This issue brief finds the pharmacy safety net facing a looming crisis. The growing number of uninsured and underinsured and the continually increasing use and cost of drugs are outpacing the expertise and size of the current safety net pharmacy workforce. Despite many skilled and dedicated pharmacists, potentially fewer patients will have access to the care they need and the safety net pharmacy workforce will be unable to meet the needs of its patients. Two recommended interventions are outlined – pharmacist education and the establishment of a formal organization – that will enable pharmacists to apply their unique and badly needed expertise to the financial challenges of the safety net.