Authorized under Chapter 564 of the Pharmacy Act, the Professional Recovery Network (PRN) offers a means for chemically dependent and/or mentally ill pharmacists and pharmacy students to confidentially enter a recovery program with the goal of integrating them back into professional practice. Founded by the Texas Pharmacy Association, PRN provides an incentive for pharmacist’s suffering from mental illness or chemical dependency to commit to early treatment and thereby avoid additional harm to the public and themselves.
A person who has who has knowledge of an act or omission by a pharmacist that could provide grounds for discipline under Section 565.001(a)(4) or (7) of the Pharmacy Act- mental illness and intemperate use of drugs or alcohol respectively- may report the license holder to the PRN. In addition to such reports by concerned colleagues and family members, pharmacists and students are encouraged to self-report to PRN. The Pharmacy Board may also refer the professional to PRN in lieu of a disciplinary proceeding. Once PRN receives a report they will contact the pharmacist, if it was not a self-report, and refer them to a mental health evaluator. After meeting the mental health evaluator, the pharmacist will enter into a Recovery Support Agreement with the PRN committing themselves to treatment and recovery. The Agreement will outline the proposed treatment program and include specific recommendations made by the evaluator. By entering into the Support Agreement, the pharmacist or student will also consent to maintaining contact with the PRN Staff and an assigned mentor, providing written quarterly reports, and, if appropriate, undergoing random drug screens. The pharmacist’s mentor, who is either a pharmacist with a long history of sobriety or extensive experience in a twelve-step program, is there to support, advise, and advocate for the professional throughout treatment.
As long as the pharmacist adheres to their Recovery Support Agreement their treatment should remain confidential and formal disciplinary proceedings may be avoided. The Board may only disclose the pharmacist’s treatment and nature of their impairment in a subsequent disciplinary hearing, to a state licensing body in another jurisdiction, and in response to a court order. If the Board determines that the pharmacist’s impairment is to such a level that it poses a potential danger to the public, they may only disclose that the professional’s license has been suspended, probated, or revoked, not the specific nature of their impairment.
If a license holder fails to comply with their Recovery Support Agreement, then the initial report and the nature of the pharmacist’s impairment may become public and the Board may take disciplinary action. PRN may also disclose the report to the Board if the licensee refuses to see a mental evaluator or undergo treatment. In these cases the Texas State Board of Pharmacy is likely to take disciplinary action as the problem will be seen as not being taken seriously or so advanced that additional intervention is needed. Even if the pharmacist or student is not actually chemically dependent or suffering from a mental illness, they are not in a credible position to argue. Here hiring an attorney becomes a necessity as the penalties imposed by the Board can be severe. Moreover, a knowledgeable attorney experienced with recovery and the process can help to reduce the terms and impediments inherent in and Agreed Board Order
More information can be found at the website of the Texas Pharmacy Association: (www.texaspharmacy.org)