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Kentucky first to offer pharmacist-led colorectal cancer screening via non-invasive test

By Tom Latek
Kentucky Today

The first pharmacist-led colorectal cancer screening via a non-invasive stool-based test in the nation, took place at Capital Pharmacy & Medical Equipment in Frankfort this week making Kentucky the first state to offer the procedure.

“Pharmacists are an integral part of the healthcare delivery system in prevention, public health issues, and the dispensing of life-saving medications,” said Ben Mudd, executive director of the Kentucky Pharmacists Association.

“Adding assessment of and screening for colorectal cancer, or CRC, to existing pharmacy protocols can greatly impact our two-decade-long fight to increase CRC screening rates. With early detection, colorectal cancer is a preventable, treatable, and beatable disease.”

The Kentucky Association of Health Plans, or KAHP, the trade association representing all commercial insurers and Medicaid-managed care plans in the state, awarded the Kentucky Pharmacists Education and Research Foundation, or KPERF, a $50,000 grant to expand access to these screenings throughout Kentucky.

Through the partnership of KAHP and KPERF, the grant is designed to expand the number of pharmacies and pharmacists who can provide this service to Kentuckians.  Participating pharmacies will be reimbursed via grant funding for pharmacist-led screening and follow-up.

“Health plans and pharmacists are joining together to tackle a leading cause of death in the Commonwealth,” said Tom Stephens, KAHP Executive Director.  ”We can close the gap by offering colorectal cancer screenings through a new Kentucky Board of Pharmacy-approved protocol, as authorized under state law and regulation. We’re excited about the potential to be a transformative innovator among the states.”

In September 2021, the Kentucky Board of Pharmacy approved a pharmacist-led colorectal cancer screening protocol allowing pharmacists to initiate the dispensing of noninvasive stool-based CRC screening methods such as a fecal immunochemical test or a stool DNA test at their local pharmacy.  This means eligible patients ages 45-85, who are at average risk for colorectal cancer, have one less step to take if they meet the requirements for pharmacist-led screening.

Whether through education on various disease states and preventive health measures, or directing patients to physician care when appropriate, pharmacists are uniquely positioned to help patients achieve better outcomes. Colorectal screenings, and pharmacist-led protocols, in general, equip pharmacists with another opportunity to save lives.

Pharmacies interested in providing this service to their patients should contact Dr. Emily Wilkerson at fellow@kphanet.org for more information. 

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