Pharmacists and the Professional Recovery Network

The Professional Recovery Network (PRN) is the official peer assistance program for the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) as well as several other Texas licensing boards, including the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners and the Texas Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners. First founded by the Texas Pharmacy Association in 1981 as the “Pharmacist Recovery Network,” even with its expansion to other professions, pharmacists continue to make up the bulk of PRN participants.

What Does the PRN Do?

Pursuant to its contract with the Pharmacy Board, the PRN evaluates, assists, and monitors pharmacists with substance abuse and/or mental health issues. Pharmacists can become involved with the PRN through one of two ways: First, a licensee can receive a private, non-board referral. This can come from an employer, family member, colleague, or even be a self-referral. Second, the board may refer a pharmacist to the PRN through either a private referral or Board Order. If pharmacists enter the PRN through a private referral, their participation remains confidential and the PRN is generally not required to report the issues underlying the referral back to the board.

PRN and Disciplinary Action

Importantly, although the PRN can and does assist pharmacists with a legitimate substance abuse or mental health problem, part of their mission includes safeguarding the public. This means if a participant becomes non-compliant with their PRN agreement, or if they decide not to enroll in the program, the PRN will report their non-compliance and the issues underlying their PRN referral to the board for possible disciplinary action. This is frequently overlooked by pharmacists who are privately referred to the PRN but who decide not to sign a participation agreement; their privacy with respect to the board only remains in effect if they agree to sign up with the PRN and stay compliant with their agreement. Although it may vary based on individual circumstances, the standard length of a PRN agreement is five years. If a pharmacist has entered the PRN due to an alcohol or substance abuse problem, they will typically be asked to undergo inpatient or outpatient treatment, submit to random drug and alcohol screening, regularly attend twelve-step / support group meetings, participate in periodic PRN functions, and refrain from any prescription medications with a potentially mind-altering effect. A pharmacist referred to the PRN due to a mental health problem will usually be asked to stay under the care of a mental health professional who will send quarterly status updates to their PRN case manager.

Pharmacists and the Texas Professional Recovery Network

The Texas Pharmacy Board also uses the PRN to coordinate mental health and substance abuse evaluations of pharmacists under board investigation. Pharmacists under investigation will frequently receive a letter from the board asking that they contact the PRN to coordinate an evaluation prior to meeting with the board at an informal settlement conference (ISC). This is a critical part of any board investigation as prior to the evaluation the PRN will perform a detailed intake interview asking far-reaching questions about the pharmacist’s personal and family medical history, alcohol and substance use, prescription medications, receipt of counseling or therapy, and other matters potentially prejudicial to the licensee. Careful selection of an outside evaluator is also crucial, as a bad or inappropriate evaluation report can impose irreparable damage to a pharmacist’s case.

Contact a Pharmacist License Defense Lawyer Today

The attorneys at the Leichter Law Firm PC have years of experience representing clients before the Professional Recovery Network and the Texas State Board of Pharmacy. Our lawyers are familiar with the PRN and board processes and how to effectively defend a pharmacist to ensure a positive result. Too many times our firm is called by pharmacists already far into their case with the PRN or the Pharmacy Board.

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