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Ruffridge pharmacy bills signed into law

 Gov. Dunleavy signed Ruffridge's bi
Riley Board
Gov. Dunleavy signed Ruffridge's bills at Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic in Soldotna.

Two new pharmacy-related bills were signed into law by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in Soldotna last Thursday. Both bills were authored by first-time Soldotna Republican Rep. Justin Ruffridge, and passed during the first session of the legislature.

The first bill exempts veterinarians from reporting to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Vets have been required to report to that database since 2017, a response to rising opioid overdoses in the state. But some say that’s a logistical hassle because the program is designed for human patients. Because animals don’t have unique identifiers, vets were required to check the prescription histories for pet owners, creating an ethical gray area and inconvenience.

The bill had strong support from veterinarians and veterinary associations in the state, and bipartisan sponsorship in both the state House and Senate.

Dunleavy visited Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic last week, owned by one of the bill’s strong supporters, Jim Delker. The governor signed the veterinary bill, and another piece of Ruffridge’s legislation, which makes amendments to the definition of pharmacy in the state.

This includes changing statues for the Alaska Board of Pharmacy, adding an EPIPEN training program, and editing language about home dialysis.

In a press release, Ruffridge said that second bill has been a years-long effort to “modernize pharmacy statutes in the State of Alaska.” Ruffridge is the former president of the state Board of Pharmacy, and owns three pharmacies in Alaska, including Soldotna Professional Pharmacy.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.