Independent Prescribing Authority of Advanced Practice Nurses: A Threat to the Public Health?

Volume 53

Issue: 53 Food and Drug Law Journal 35-46 (1998)

Many state governments, as well as the Clinton Administration, have sought to provide advanced practice nurses (APNs) with the same access to the pharmacopoeia as that enjoyed by board certified subspecialist physicians. Supporters of such access, however, have failed to consider carefully the public health consequences of their actions. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has legitimate concerns over the off-label use of pharmaceuticals by physicians, because of the lack of rigorous continuing pharmacological education to allow for appropriate independent decisionmaking. Therefore, expanding prescribing authority to APNs, who lack substantial formal education in pharmacology and other basic medical sciences, is troubling. This article argues that FDA should use its significant regulatory power to curb the expansion of prescribing authority to APNs unless appropriate safeguards are instituted.

March 1998