Executive Summary

On September 23, 2014, Michigan passed Public Act 285 ("Act"), which requires pharmacy technicians who perform certain functions to be licensed in the State of Michigan. Previously, individuals working as pharmacy technicians were not required to be certified or licensed to perform duties essential to their profession. In considering this new licensure requirement, the Michigan Senate found that pharmacy technician licensure was important to protect patient safety, minimize the diversion of controlled substances and allow pharmacists to focus on patient care. 

The Act formally goes into effect on December 22, 2014 and will quickly affect pharmacies throughout Michigan. Pharmacy owners, managers and operators, as well as pharmacists, must ensure that pharmacy technicians employed or otherwise under their control are properly licensed in order to be compliant with the terms of the Act.

Pharmacy Technician Functions

The Act contains a list of specific pharmacy technician functions that were previously not enumerated by Michigan law. An individual is considered to be serving as a pharmacy technician if he or she performs any of the following functions:

  1. Assisting in the dispensing process;
  2. Handling transfer of prescriptions, except controlled substances prescriptions;
  3. Compounding drugs;
  4. Preparing or mixing intravenous drugs for injection into a human patient;
  5. Contacting prescribers concerning prescription drug order clarification, which does not include drug regimen review or clinical or therapeutic interpretation; or
  6. Receiving verbal orders for prescription drugs, except orders for controlled substances.

Pharmacy Technician Licensure Requirements

Under the Act, pharmacy technicians in Michigan must be at least 18 years old and fulfill certain licensing requirements, including:

  1. Submitting a completed license application with the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs ("LARA") and payment of a $25 application fee;
  2. Graduating from high school or comparable educational institution or passing the general educational development test or equivalent;
  3. Possessing good moral character, specific education or experience in the pharmacy technician practice and working knowledge of the English language;
  4. Completing a criminal history check with the State Police, which includes submission of fingerprints;
  5. Passing the Certified Pharmacy Technician Examination, an equivalent examination or a Pharmacy Board-approved employer-based training program exam; and
  6. Paying an annual licensing fee of $30.    

Pharmacy technician licenses are also subject to renewal requirements, whereby the licensee must provide LARA with evidence that he or she completed at least 20 hours of approved continuing education courses or programs during the two years immediately preceding the renewal request.  Alternatively, the licensee seeking renewal may pass a proficiency examination to be eligible for a license renewal.

The Act applies to individuals preparing to enter into the pharmacy technician profession as well as currently employed pharmacy technicians. Pharmacy technicians seeking licensure may apply for a temporary license, which allows technicians to perform the duties of the profession while preparing for the required examination for licensure. A temporary license costs $15 and expires 210 days after the issue date. An individual holding a temporary license is subject to all the requirements under the Act and the rules promulgated under it, except the examination requirement.

Currently employed pharmacy technicians who have been continuously employed by the same pharmacy since September 23, 2014 may apply for a limited license with LARA for $10 per year.  Pharmacy technicians are eligible for this limited license after completing an application with LARA and providing documentation of employment as a pharmacy technician for a minimum of 1,000 hours during the two-year period preceding the limited license request. A limited license holder may continue to perform pharmacy technician functions in the pharmacy where he or she is currently employed.  However, if the pharmacy technician is no longer employed at that pharmacy to perform pharmacy technician functions or performs any pharmacy technician functions for another pharmacy, then he or she is subject to the standard licensing requirements outlined above. The term of a limited license pharmacy technician license issued is the same as a pharmacy technician licensed under the Act. 

Practical Takeaways

Although pharmacy technicians must comply with the requirements of the Act in order to obtain a license, pharmacy owners, managers and operators, as well as pharmacists, must also ensure that their pharmacy technicians are licensed by December 22, 2014 and should confirm that they do not otherwise have an employee performing pharmacy technician functions enumerated in the Act unless such employee is properly licensed as a pharmacy technician. Pharmacies will also need to cease any practices whereby general employees were performing the duties of a pharmacy technician on a substitute basis due to the previously unregulated status of the profession.

Matthew Decker