- Associated Press - Monday, March 3, 2014

The Des Moines Register. Feb. 26, 2014.

Pharmacy Board forgets it’s to serve the public

Iowa has dozens of state boards responsible for licensing everyone from cosmetologists and doctors to hearing aid technicians and athletic trainers. The primary mission of these boards is supposed to be protecting the public health and safety.

That means they are supposed to ensure licensed workers meet the state’s educational requirements and abide by the regulations the state establishes for these occupations. The boards are supposed to issue cease-and-desist orders to those not abiding by the rules and respond to complaints from consumers.

Though these complaints are not public when they are initially filed, if the board investigates and decides to file a “statement of charges” against the license holder, those charges become a public document. The board’s subsequent decision in the case - whether that is dismissal of charges, the imposition of sanctions or the revocation of the person’s state license - are also public documents.

Most of the time, this information is posted on board websites and sometimes sent out by boards in news releases. Iowans who want to know whether their barbers or doctors have been sanctioned can easily check online. Just scroll through recent board actions or type in a name and see what the search yields.

But every once in a while, an Iowa licensing board forgets that it exists to protect the public and focuses, instead, on protecting the reputations of people and entities it is supposed to regulate.

That is exactly what the Iowa Board of Pharmacy did last November.

This board, which oversees thousands of pharmacists, pharmacies, drug wholesalers and controlled-substance handlers, removed a link on its website that connected the public with the board’s past statements of charges and disciplinary action.

One day all the information was available online. The next day, it wasn’t there.

Instead of being able to easily access information on discipline against pharmacists or pharmacies, Iowans were met with this message: “Please contact Lloyd Jessen for a list of licensees and registrants who have been disciplined by the Board.”

Jessen is the pharmacy board’s executive director, and his email was provided with the message on the website.

Why would the board remove information that was previously, easily available?

Why would it require Iowans to take the extra step of emailing him to find out about potential problems with a specific pharmacist or a certain pharmacy?

This wouldn’t be an attempt to protect pharmacists and pharmacies from embarrassment, would it, because that’s what it appears to be.

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