New Colorado law adds necessary regulations to pharmacy work

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Press Release | June 4, 2019

Pikes Peak State College Pharmacy Technician instructors have been fighting for a bill that would require pharmacy technicians to get board certified. Gov. Polis signed the bill Monday.

Gov. Polis will give a press conference at 10 a.m. Wednesday at PPSC's Centennial Campus Atrium to discuss this and other new laws.

For Nicole Barriera, a certified pharmacy technician and PPSC's Pharmacy Technician program chair, this effort to pass the pharmacy technician certification bill has been personal. She shared with legislators that her mom died in 2012 as a result of a medication prescription error made by her doctor and missed at the pharmacy, even after she questioned the pharmacy tech about it. 

Barriera's mom died as a result of a deadly combination of medications. That personal tragedy drove Barriera to champion for changes in the regulation of Colorado's pharmacy technicians, who have been less regulated than hairstylists. 

PPSC Pharmacy Technician faculty, Marcia Janos, has spent the last two years on the Colorado Pharmacists Society Task Force helping to get this bill to the legislature. 

"Both Nicole and I have provided input throughout the entire process, and I am thrilled that our hard work to ensure pharmacy technicians are sufficiently qualified has finally come to fruition," said Janos.

Because pharmacy technicians are not regulated on a federal level, each state has to determine regulations through their State Board of Pharmacy. Colorado is currently one of only five states remaining that had not enacted any standards for the profession. In many states, the process has been more reactive than proactive. They had to accumulate a record of catastrophic events in order to get support for regulation. 

Patient safety is a serious concern. Medical errors are all too frequent because there have been no standards set to ensure baseline competency for the workforce. Most employers have their own process, but some do not. 

The other issue is the theft of drugs by pharmacy workers. They can easily get these jobs because background checks are not state-mandated, and there is no official process for preventing them from working in the field again once they've been caught stealing drugs.

Pharmacists especially want this bill passed because the pharmacists on duty are ethically and legally liable for what happens in the pharmacies. They need to know they have a competent workforce supporting them.

With the passage of this bill, all pharmacy technicians will be required to be certified by the State Board of Pharmacy, satisfy renewal and continuing education requirements and be subject to the jurisdiction of the board, and to discipline by the board for engaging in unprofessional conduct.  

Barriera uses her own family's tragic experience to constantly remind her students: "Patient safety is No. 1. No matter what setting, what regulations, your job is patient safety and accuracy. You have to make a conscious decision to focus on the patient so they feel safe and heard. If a patient has questions, get the pharmacist to evaluate it. ... They must also remain vigilant by evaluating prescriptions for accuracy in dosing and application." 

More details on this law can be found at

About PPSC's Pharmacy Technician Program
It has been nationally accredited by ASHP/ACPE since 2008 and is one of only four nationally accredited programs in the state. Since 2011, PPSC’s Pharmacy Technician Program has achieved a 99-percent pass rate for program graduates who choose to sit for the National Pharmacy Technician Certification Exam.

PPSC has excellent clinical facilities and staff, state-of-the-art labs, and experienced and accessible faculty. In addition, it has advanced-practice training opportunities available once initial entry-level training is complete. This is the only program in the state that offers an associate degree and an Advanced Pharmacy Practice certificate.

More info on PPSC's Pharmacy Technician program can be found at