Drug testing is necessary at some institutions, especially in professional, social-communication imparting institutions such as pharmacy schools, medical schools, etc. Pharmacy schools in the United States need students to undergo drug screening and criminal background checks so that they give admissions to the finest students. According to the statistics, many students admitted to professional schools have used some form of illicit drug, especially Marijuana and other illegal drugs such as Ecstasy sooner or later.

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy does not mandate drug testing or criminal background checks on pharmacy students. Still, according to some sources, it is becoming a rule at some schools. 

Moreover, drug testing is more prevalent in the Northeastern and Midwestern regions of the U.S. (for example, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan) than in Southern and Western states. The following article compiles all the details required to answer basic questions on conducting drug testing for pharmacy schools.

Table of Contents:

  • Drug Testing In Pharmacy School
  • AACP Drug Screening
  • What Is The Drug Testing Process Of Pharmacy Schools?
  • What Happens If A Student Fails A Drug Test At The Pharmacy School?

Drug Testing In Pharmacy Schools

Drug testing is a routine part of enrollment in pharmacy schools, but the drug screening policy can vary from institution to institution. It might depend on each school’s current rules, regulations, and governing body. 

Sometimes, the screening could be carried out by the students or someone else from the school staff. The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACCP) has also developed a list of rules for the students and staff to follow while conducting a drug test. 

The provisions in the guidelines are not compulsory, but they help both parties involved in the test. AACCP decided to join the bandwagon and regulate drug testing in pharmacy schools across the country because it is considered essential to becoming a responsible health care professional. 

Moreover, the reasoning behind a drug test at pharmacy schools is not clear, but it is believed that a certain percentage of applicants are drug users. Some of the reasons given include:

  1. Patient care is vital, and they need well-trained pharmacists who are physically and mentally healthy, which can be achieved only in a drug-free environment. Schools are responsible for the welfare of their students, and they must ensure that their students are ready to face the strenuous working environment after graduation. 
  2. Liability issues; People under the influence of drugs such as Marijuana can cause accidents. According to the study, from 2008-2012, pharmacists committed many clinical errors. The most common problem related to drug use was that pharmacists gave wrong information to patients by misinterpreting the dosage instructions or giving incorrect doses of medication.
  3. Employers believe pharmacists who maintain a drug-free workplace and follow the drug screening program are competent and can provide reliable services. Drug testing is an extra measure taken by schools to ensure only healthy candidates are admitted for a career in pharmacy.

AACP Drug Screening

The American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy guidelines are critical and should be followed if you want admission into a pharmacy school. AACP aims to ensure that the testing process is fair, consistent and efficient. 

AACP has started a PharmCAS-sponsored drug screening service run by Certiphi Screening. It is the third largest drug testing lab in the country. This service aims to provide a transparent process and ensure that all applicants undergo a drug test without any discrepancy. 

According to the AACP guidelines, every applicant must undergo a urinalysis or a drug screening to check for illicit drug use. The school will set the guidelines and standards depending on its city. Also, U.S. Pharmacy schools may subject their students to a drug test for controlled substances, prescription drugs and alcohol. 

AACP has published an information booklet on the process to ensure that the school conducts the test according to AACP guidelines. Moreover, in case of any discrepancy, AACP has the authority to punish the college and the students involved in providing incorrect information or not following prescribed guidelines. Thus, the process is transparent and efficient.

What Is The Drug Testing Process Of Pharmacy Schools?

A student who wants to enroll for a position in the school of pharmacy has to undergo a drug test. The candidate must follow the following steps:

  • A student must start the process at least two months before enrolling in a pharmacy school position.
  • The first step is to fill in the online application form that includes all the student’s details and other relevant information, such as previous educational institutions, employment history and other extra-curricular activities.
  • Once the application has been submitted, it will be validated. 
  • After validation, the student must undergo the urinalysis test to determine whether they are a drug user. The testing lab (Certiphi) will do this, after which they will send a report to your school, or they can get the drug screen results through email or phone.
  • Once the student receives the results from the lab, they must update the information in the application form to include the details of their drug test. If they are found to use drugs, they will receive a telephone call from Medical Review Officer (MRO) at their school. 
  • The MRO will then consult the student and their physician on the drug test results and take a medical opinion on whether drug use could lead to adverse health effects.
  • After this, a school representative will finalize your test results and admission to the pharmacy school.

What Happens If A Student Fails A Drug Test?

Usually, a student might get suspended from the school of pharmacy with a positive drug screen. The student can then appeal to the school for a review, and the results or punishment may be changed or waived.

According to the AACCP guidelines, any applicant with a positive result does not get admission into a pharmacy school. If they have been accepted in one program, the school might not accept them in another. 

The penalty could also be related to other things such as future employment or insurance coverage. Also, if a student needs treatment for drug abuse, they will have to seek help from a certified substance abuse program. Moreover, a student cannot be admitted to a pharmacy school until the student has a drug-free certification.


Drug testing is essential to enrollment, and you must prepare yourself when applying to the school of pharmacy. The process is conducted fairly and standardized, so there is no room for fraud. 

The AACP has created a clear set of guidelines for all schools. Not all schools follow the same guidelines. Even though going for a drug test at the beginning of your pharmacy school program is recommended, some schools might make you wait until you have been admitted as a student. 

It is essential to consult your college regarding this process and remember that it is your responsibility to keep yourself on track for the drug test.


Are Prescription Drugs Allowed During Pharmacy School?

Yes, prescription drugs are allowed in your program. But, if you are consuming it or using it for more extended periods, you must get permission from your academic advisor and teacher. You must provide proof to the school authorities and proceed with caution. 

Also, it is essential to know if any drug you are using is in a controlled category. In this case, you need to ensure that the prescription is valid and that you have been taking the drug for the recommended period.

How Long Does Certiphi Drug Test Take?

It takes at least five days to process your sample, and you will receive an email notification after the sample has reached the testing lab. You don’t need to book an appointment for the screening; you can visit the lab anytime with a valid Photo ID. Also, you will be informed about the drug screen result within 72 hours by phone or email.

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