A pharmacy technician, sometimes known as a pharmaceutical technician, is a health care provider who performs pharmacy-related functions, generally working under the direct supervision of a licensed pharmacist. Pharmacy technicians work in a variety of locations (usually in community, retail, and hospital pharmacies), but can also work for long-term care facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, third-party insurance companies, computer software companies, or in government or teaching. Job duties include dispensing prescription drugs and other medical devices to patients and instructing on their use. They may also perform administrative duties in pharmaceutical practice, such as reviewing prescription requests with doctor's offices and insurance companies to ensure correct medications are provided and payment is received.
In recent times, pharmacy technicians also speak directly with the patients on the phone to aid in the awareness of taking medications on time. In many countries, both developed and developing, the relative importance of pharmacy technicians within the pharmacy workforce has been amplified in recent years, largely as a reaction to pharmacist shortages, resulting in an increase in their numbers and responsibilities; alternative medicine, pharmacotherapeutics, customer care, retail and hospital software systems, inventory management, and infection control.
Practical training, such as completing an internship in a pharmacy, is also often required as part of training for employment as a pharmacy technician. Many employers favor pharmacy technicians to be certified with a national or local pharmacy board, such as by passing a standard exam and/or paying a fee. In the United States, voluntary certification is available through many private organizations. Elsewhere, such as in Tanzania and the United Kingdom, pharmacy technicians are required to be registered with the national regulatory council.
Training and practice
In the United States, there is no mandated regulatory agency governing the training of Pharmacy Technicians. Each state has a wide variety of regulations governing the licensure of Pharmacy Technicians in their state. There are two National Examinations for the certification of Pharmacy Technicians (PTCE @ www.ptcb.org) (ExCpT @ www.nhanow.com/pharmacy-technician.aspx).
The PTCB, Pharmacy Technician Certification Board, has enacted a plan to require an ASHP (American Society of Health-Systems Pharmacists) certified Pharmacy Technician education program by the year 2020. This is a hotly debated issue, as training schools have come under great scrutiny regarding the issuance of Title IV loans.
In Canada, according to a 2007 profile of the pharmacy technician workforce, 43% of technicians work in hospitals and other related facilities, 37% in chain or franchise community pharmacies, and 16% in independent community pharmacies. Most (62%) obtained pharmacy technician training from a career college or community college, some (16%) had only a high school education and no formal pharmacy training, while about 20% had some university education. A very small proportion (2%) had trained and worked abroad as either pharmacists or pharmacy technicians. The wide range of technical training and educational attainment likely reflects in part the variety of training programs for pharmacy technicians currently available in the different provinces and territories of the country. Accredited Pharmacy Technician diploma, certificate and college programs are offered in the Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Ontario and Saskatchewan. 908
In provinces and jurisdictions where pharmacy technician is a regulated health profession, professional liability insurance is required in order to practice. In Ghana, a 2009 assessment of pharmaceutical human resources identified a total of 1,637 practicing pharmacists (1 per 14,400 population), 918 practising pharmacy Technicians/Technologists (1 per 25,600), and 1,642 medicine counter assistants (1 per 14,300). Nearly half (45%) of pharmacies and pharmaceutical manufacturers across the country reported having one or more vacancies for pharmaceutical personnel, including 82% of public sector facilities.
In the area of training, the assessment identified only one pharmacy technologists training school in the country (enrolling 70 students in the Higher National Diploma program).
Tanzania has two Pharmaceutical Technician schools: one is a public sector institution under the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and accredited by Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences, and the other is affiliated with a faith based organization located in Kilimanjaro which offers diploma training. The practice of pharmaceutical technicians is regulated by Tanzania Pharmacy Council, which enrols and enlists them. The country has 0.11 registered pharmacy technicians per 10,000 population.
The main job duties of pharmaceutical technicians include dispensing, stock management, compounding, quantification of pharmaceutical formulations, and laboratory work. In some areas of the country facing acute shortage of physicians and other clinicians, pharmacy technicians have also been found prescribing.
In the United Kingdom, a Pharmacy Technician must complete a recognised accredited training program with vocational training to SVQ/NVQ level 3 in Pharmacy Services as well as an academic underpinning knowledge program such as BTEC or National Certificate (NC) Pharmacy Services. In addition a minimum period of time of working as a trainee Pharmacy Technician is needed before final qualification. Pharmacy Technicians are qualified to counsel patients on their medication as well as general dispensing of prescriptions. This is different from a Pharmacy Dispenser who is qualified to S/NVQ2 level and is unable to provide counselling. Additional training is available to qualified Pharmacy Technicians and can include accuracy checking of dispensed prescriptions, Medicines Management (Hospital or PCT), participation in the running of hospital clinics such as anticoagulant clinics, dosing Warfarin patients under dose banding guidance, or other higher duties traditionally done by Pharmacists.
In the National Health Service (NHS) Pharmacy Technicians work under the direct supervision of a Senior/ Specialist Pharmacy Technician and is accountable to the Chief Pharmacy Technician/ Lead Pharmacist even if not in a dispensary and work mainly in one of two areas, hospital pharmacy and community pharmacy. Some also work in Doctors' general practices and in primary care trusts.
In England, Scotland and Wales, since 1 July 2011, qualified Pharmacy Technicians have to be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council (formerly the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain) to practise and call themselves a Pharmacy Technician. The title 'Technician' such as Pharmacy Technician, Dispensing Technician and/or (Accredited) Checking Technician (ACT) is a protected title and requires the user to register with the General Pharmaceutical Council. A Pharmacy Dispenser cannot call themselves or work as a Technician or register with the General Pharmaceutical Council.
Pharmacy Technicians are graded on the same Agenda for Change banding as nurses and other health care professionals. They start on a set percentage of a Band 4 (usually 75%) as a trainee moving on to Band 4 when newly qualified PhT and can work their way to a Band 8b in charge of a department/area. A Band 8b is the equivalent of a Nurse Lead/Senior Nurse Manager in nursing or other Head of Department in the NHS.
Registered Pharmacy Technicians in the NHS are responsible for the training and development of Pharmacy Support Workers; Senior Pharmacy Support Workers and Pre-Registration Trainee Pharmacy Technicians. Further training and qualifications after initial registration as a RPhT enable them to perform this mentoring role. Pharmacy Technicians in the UK (as with other countries e.g. Canada) are now regarded as Healthcare Professionals in their own right due to their ever expanding role, although Registered Pharmacists are obviously considered experts in the Pharmaceutical field and RPhTs are subordinate to Pharmacists.
According to the German Statistisches Bundesamt, 66.867 pharmacy technicians are working in Germany (status: 2011). About 90% are working as employees in community pharmacies. Their salary (approx. 1.837 - 2.400 Euros) is part of agreements between employers associations and Adexa.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 75% of pharmacy technicians in the U.S. work in a retail setting, such as an independently owned drugstore, a mass retailer chain, or a mail-order or online pharmacy. An additional 16% of pharmacy technician jobs were in hospitals, while others worked for nursing homes, pharmaceutical wholesalers, or the Federal Government. To work in any of these settings, certain requirements must be met. Requirements vary by state.
State of California Pharmacy Technician requirements
The California State Board of Pharmacy is managed by the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It was established in 1891 in order to regulate the practice of pharmacy and sale of poisons in the State of California. As of 2009, the Board consisted of seven pharmacists and six public members, for a total of thirteen members. All seven pharmacists and four public members were appointed by the governor of the state. The remaining two were appointed by the Assembly Speaker and Senate Rules Committee.
The Board issues licenses/registration for pharmacists, intern pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians, as well as site permits for pharmacies or other establishments that dispense prescription drugs in the state. All registration, license, and permit renewals are handled by the Board as well as complaints and enforcement actions.
To be eligible to become licensed as a pharmacy technician in California, you must have a high school diploma or a General Education Development (GED) certificate AND qualify under A, B or C below:
A. Have an Associate Degree in Pharmacy Technology OR Any other course that provides a minimum of 240 hours of instruction as specified in Title 16 California Code of Regulation section 1793.6(c) OR A training course accredited by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) OR Graduation from a school of pharmacy accredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE).
B. Certification certified by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB).
C. Successful completion of a training program provided by a branch of the federal armed services.
Potential employees that have met all state requirements can expect to enjoy positive employment and salary growth between now and 2020. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, this positive growth trend is expected to play out in the state of California as well as nationwide.
California Pharmacy Technician employment & salary trends
Around nine percent of the country’s 334,400 pharmacy technicians reside in California and the state is home to the top ten highest paying metropolitan areas for technicians. Employment growth is up across the U.S. overall, with California holding the number one spot for employment growth. Salary growth is notable as well, placing California at number three on the list of states with the highest salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, pharmacy technician salaries and employment figures for California (and the nation) are as follows:
Pharmacy Technician Employment Growth California: New Jobs Since 2006 - 5,310; Population 2006 - 23,360; Current Population - 28,670
Pharmacy Technician Salary Growth California: Average Salary 2006 - $34,420; Average Salary Today - $38,380
Pharmacy Technician Employment Growth Nationwide: New Jobs Since 2006 - 51,950; Population 2006 - 282,450; Current Population - 334,400; Projected Increase 2010-2020 - 32 percent
Pharmacy Technician Salary Growth Nationwide: Average Salary 2006 - $26,510; Average Salary Today: $28,400
CPhT is the abbreviation for Certified Pharmacy Technician. The CPhT works directly under a pharmacist, R.Ph or a PharmD. (An R.Ph is a Registered Pharmacist, who is a licensed pharmacist in that state and may have either a bachelor's degree in pharmacy or a Pharm.D. A Pharm.D. is the Doctorate degree of Pharmacy, or Doctor of Pharmacy). The profession has different educational and certification requirements in different locales, set by each state's Board of Pharmacy. For example, in order to remain licensed, all Illinois pharmacy technicians hired on Jan 1, 2008 (and after) will need to be certified within 2 years of registration with the Division of Professional Regulation.
After obtaining technical school education, an associate degree, or work training, the technician may take a certification exam. Exam preparation may also be provided by some employers. Examinations are offered by two certifying bodies. The first is the Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam (PTCE), which is offered by the Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (PTCB). The second is the Exam for the Certification of Pharmacy Technician (ExCPT) offered by the National Healthcare Association (NHA). Upon successful completion of the examination, the candidate is granted certification. The technician must then complete continuing education to maintain certification.
There are many scopes of the workplace for the Certified Pharmacy Technician. In a retail setting, a CPhT works under the direct supervision of a pharmacist who dispenses prescription medication (tablets, capsules, gels, ointment, creams, suspensions, injections, and inhalation medications), and must be familiar with over-the-counter areas as well as third party insurance billing processes. In an inpatient setting, the CPhT works throughout the hospital, packing and dispensing medications in satellite pharmacies and to the various nursing units; compounding intravenous medication while using aseptic technique; narcotic medication dispensing and inventorial procedures; as well as documenting patients' weight, height, drug allergies and other needed information in medication records.
Pharmacy Technicians are trained at Harare Polytechnic. Students graduate with a diploma after three years of training. The program is run by the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare of Zimbabwe. There is an intake of about 35 students each year.
In India Medical colleges CPR Also known as Mccpr provides full training on pharmacy technician the basic eligibility in India to enroll in this course is 10+2 or diploma there are like 2 batches a year that intakes about 40 students per batch.
Pharmacy technicians in Nigeria make 75% of pharmaceutical work force and are looking for their council (pharmacy technician and technologist council of Nigeria) reason being the pharmacist council of Nigeria (PCN) refuses to allocate responsibilities that will give them right to practice at community level interdependently. The case was in court and the court ruled against PCN on 12/3/2008. Nigerian Pharmacy technicians in collaboration with NBTE are currently saving Nigerian Economy and Nigerians from the professional monopoly played by pharmacist Council of Nigeria (PCN) which led to abundant fake drugs due lack of manpower. This exposed Nigerian to a lot of problems which lead reduction in productivity leading to sustainable poverty. Nigerian Pharmacy technicians in collaboration with NBTE are able to achieve these by introducing ND/HND in pharmaceutical technology. PCN is doing everything possible to stop this training in order to sustain its monopoly, demanding Federal ministry of education to direct NBTE to stop accrediting the polytechnics while these course are offered in Ghana, Sudan and other countries.
In Colombia, Pharmacy Technicians are known as Pharmacy Regency Technologists, erroneously called Pharmacy Regents. They graduate of several universities after three years of training. This occupation appeared due to the lack of pharmacists in Colombia, that is why they are commonly confused with pharmacists. The Pharmacy Regency Technicians in Colombia are regulated and monitored by the Ministry of Health and Social Protection.
- PCI Calls."CVS.com", as of Oct, 2011
- US Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Pharmacy Technicians and Aides", Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, accessed February 6, 2011.
- World Health Organization. "Pharmaceutical technicians and assistants", Classifying health workers, accessed July 12, 2011.
- Humber College. "Pharmacy Technician", School of Health Sciences, accessed 12 July 2011.
- Hawthorne N, Anderson C. "The global pharmacy workforce: a systematic review of the literature." Human Resources for Health 2009, 7:48 doi:10.1186/1478-4491-7-48
- Irish Pharmacy Union. IPU Pharmacy Technician's Course, accessed 13 July 2011.
- National Health Service. Entry requirements and training for pharmacy technicians, NHS Careers in Detail, accessed July 12, 2011.
- Canadian Pharmacists Association. The Pharmacy Technician Workforce in Canada: Roles, Demographics and Attitudes, accessed 13 July 2011.
- Canadian-universities.net. Pharmacy Technician College Programs and Courses in Canada, accessed 13 July 2011.
- Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians. Regulated Technician, accessed 13 July 2011.
- Ghana Pharmacy Council, Ghana Ministry of Health, and World Health Organization. Assessment of Human Resources for Pharmaceutical Services in Ghana, Accra, 2009. Accessed 13 July 2011.
- Tanzania Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. Assessment of the Pharmaceutical Human Resources in Tanzania and Strategic Framework, Dar es Salaam, 2010. Accessed 13 July 2011.
- National Health Service. "Pharmacy technician", NHS Careers in Detail, accessed July 12, 2011.
- "Online Archive of California". California Digital Library. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- "California State Board of Pharmacy". Department of Consumer Affairs. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
- "Pharmacy Technician Review". Pharmacy Technician Review. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- "Bureau of Labor Statistics". U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
- Illinois Division of Professional Regulation — State Board of Pharmacy. "National Healthcare Association", Illinois Pharmacy Technician Certification Requirements, accessed September 19, 2011.
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board.  Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam, accessed March 12, 2012.
- National Healthcare Association.  (ExCPT) Pharmacy Technician Certification, accessed August 1st, 2012.
- American Association of Pharmacy Technicians (AAPT) (U.S. professional organisation)
- National Pharmacy Technician Association (NPTA) (U.S. professional organisation)
- Association of Pharmacy Technicians, UK (U.K. professional organisation)
- Canadian Association of Pharmacy Technicians (Canadian professional organisation)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification By State (U.S.)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Information (U.S.)
- Pharmacy Technician Certification Board (U.S.)
- Pharmacy Calculations and Conversions (U.S.)