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In the spring of 1981, a call was received at the Texas Pharmacy Association (TPA) from a past president of the Association that was later recognized as the starting point of the program. A young pharmacist had been arrested while under the influence of and in illegal possession of drugs in the reporting pharmacist’s community. The local pharmacists wanted to help the young man and were seeking advice on the best way to do so. As a result of the phone call, TPA’s Board of Councilors, under the chairmanship of Barry Blackmon of Texarkana, discussed the need of a program to address chemical abuse/dependency in the pharmacy profession. An ad hoc committee was made up of representatives from the Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP) (ex-officio), the TPA Auxiliary and students from the three colleges of pharmacy (that existed at the time) in addition to a total of ten pharmacists who were selected to represent all areas of the state and types of pharmacy practice. The state committee was formed the following year and a grant was received from the Texas Department of Community Affairs, Drug Abuse Division to establish the program.
The first training session for interveners was held in the spring of 1983. On the advice of the Association’s attorney, legislation was sought and passed that granted civil liability immunity to those persons working with impaired pharmacists within the framework of the TPA Pharmacy Recovery Network (PRN) program. The amendment to the Texas Pharmacy Act was signed into law June 19, 1983. The first pharmacist to be accepted into the program was a female who entered in July 1983. In 1985, additional legislation was enacted that granted civil liability immunity to persons working with impaired pharmacy students who are in the professional sequence of courses.
In 2003, a staff member of the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) contacted the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to gather information on who was administering and providing the Peer Assistance Program for Pharmacy. This staff member learned about the PRN program and contacted the Director of the program at the time. The TSBDE staff member encouraged PRN to bid for the contract to be the Peer Assistance Program provider for TSBDE. PRN submitted the bid to the Texas Building and Procurement Commission who is responsible for evaluating and awarding the Peer Assistance Contract. According to the Invitation to Bid, the emphasis of the program should be rehabilitative in nature rather than an adversarial or punitive emphasis. This emphasis matched the philosophy that PRN had been operating under for the past twenty-two years. Beginning September 1, 2003, PRN began offering recovery support services to all dental professionals in addition to the pharmacy professionals already being served. At this time, the program’s name was changed from Pharmacy Recovery Network (PRN) to Professional Recovery Network (PRN).
On September 1, 2010, the Professional Recovery Network was awarded contracts to begin monitoring Veterinary and Optometry Professionals as well.
PRN has been the model used in the establishment of many of the other state programs nationwide. Whatever success the program has obtained has been due to the close cooperation between Texas Pharmacy Association, Texas State Board of Pharmacy (TSBP), Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE), the Texas State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners (TBVME), and the Texas Optometry Board (TOB).