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Setting the Bar for Pharmacy, One Legislative Session at a Time

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Written by Jordan Kellerman on August 30, 2023

Colorado is one of the most progressive states in the nation in which to practice pharmacy. The state was one of the first in the nation to allow pharmacists to prescribe HIV medications, removing a barrier for the 15,000+ Coloradans living with HIV; one of the first to allow pharmacists to give immunizations, something that helped prevent severe disease and death during the COVID emergency; and one of the first states to grant pharmacists provider status, which allows pharmacists to effectively work with a greater healthcare team to optimize patient-centered care.


Dr. Gina Moore

Leading the way in this state-wide advocacy is Gina Moore, PharmD, Associate Dean for Operations at CU Pharmacy and Legislative Chair of the Colorado Pharmacists Society (CPS).

“The school began [advocacy efforts] in 2015 by advocating for pharmacist provider status,” Dr. Moore explained.

Today, the School of Pharmacy partners on promoting legislative change with CPS, which is led by CU Pharmacy clinical associate professor Dr. Emily Zadvorny, PharmD. This year, with support from CU Pharmacy, CPS was awarded the 2023 ASHP Pharmacy Champion Award. The award specifically recognized the efforts to secure passage of CO HB 21-1275, which provides Medicaid reimbursements for services by pharmacists. The advocacy effort is being hailed as a blueprint for other states to recognize pharmacists as health care providers.

Faculty and researchers at CU Pharmacy also see advocacy as an opportunity for students’ education. Each spring pharmacy students participate in Day at the Capitol, where they get a front row seat for the legislative process, meet state representatives, and interact with other pharmacy advocates. During the 2023 legislative session, pharmacy faculty testified in support of insurance-covered pharmacogenomic testing, served as expert witnesses on opioid addiction, and supported a number of bills aims at making high-cost drugs available to those who need them.

Rhonda Fields with P3 students Kimberly Brown and Petra Erhardt

Colorado Senator Rhonda Fields, right, with P3 Kimberly Brown at the Colorado State Capitol.

“We are excited about two pieces of legislation that will address spread pricing and allow the Division of Insurance to enforce previously passed laws against prohibited pharmacy benefit managers (PBM) practices,” Dr. Moore said.

But why would a school be so involved with pharmacy legislation? It comes down to expanding education and patient-centered care.

“Our pharmacy students graduate with amazing training and skills,” Dr. Moore said. “Newer drugs are more complex than they have been in previous years, and we need all of our graduates to actively engage as part of the health care team to ensure drugs are appropriate and safe for our patients.”

By advocating for patient care, insurance coverage, and allowing pharmacists to practice at a top level, the school is on the forefront of pharmacy innovation, and prepared to educate pharmacists to do the same.

“Our society is also getting older with complex problems and multidrug regimens,” Dr. Moore continued. “Our graduates are trained to address those challenges and help patients live longer, healthier lives.”