Pharmacy pearls…blog#2

The National Drug Code (NDC) of a product is an essential piece in helping you verify prescription orders. Understanding each piece of the NDC is essential in your everyday pharmacy practice. The NDC is 11 numbers, fitting in the following example pattern: 54321-4321-21. The first five digits represent the manufacturer, the middle four numbers represent the drug and strength, and the last two numbers represent the package size of the drug and/or product.

Let’s use Prednisone 10mg as our example. A link to the drug with picture can be found CLICK HERE. The NDC for this product is 59746-0173-06. Barcode technology is essential piece of most pharmacies. With a typical workflow in the pharmacy following this pattern: Prescription Drop Off –> Order entry –> Fill prescription –> Verification of prescription –> Pickup –> Consultation of drug/device product. The part of the workflow that we will focus in on with this blog post is the verification component, but the barcode technology is also often employed with the “Fill” process in many chain pharmacies as well.

So, many folks don’t realize that the barcode of most drug products uses the NDC as it’s  code. To view a comparison of the NDC in relationship to the UPC barcode CLICK HERE and look at the last two columns on the chart. You will notice that the only difference between the NDC and the UPC barcode number is typically the first and last digits. With the first digit in the UPC code being the number “3”.

  • To recap, the NDC and UPC barcodes are essentially the same, and this technology is often deployed to match drug and device products at the fill and verification process. The pharmacist must know how to express this knowledge to pharmacy technicians and staff pharmacists to ensure patient safety. 

Secondly, understanding the NDC can then be used for the drug identification process. Remember the middle four digits represent the drug and strength. So lets compare Prednisone 10mg (NDC:59746-0173-06) tablets produced by Cadista to Prednisone 20mg (59746-0175-06) tablets produced by Cadista. Please click on the links embedded into the names for both Prednisone 10mg and Prednisone 20mg. Look closely at both tablets, and ask yourself whats the same and whats different?

So, both tablets are round. Both tablets have the markings TL embedded into the tablet. The tablets differ by color. The 10mg tablet is white while the 20mg tablet is more off a light orange. Lastly, take a look at your middle four digits of the NDC. For Prednisone 10mg the middle four digits are 0173. For Prednisone 20mg the middle four digits are 0175. The numbers on the tablet for the 10mg tablet is 173 and for the 20mg tablet is 175. Note: this does not apply to all pills that you will identify during the verification step. However, it is very useful to realize that very often the markings that are used on pills oftentimes correlate with the name of the manufacturer and the NDC. Remember though, this does not apply to all all pills, that you will identify during the verification step. 

  • To recap, the middle four digits on an NDC are sometimes used as the numerical markings on the pill. Thus, along with UPC barcode technology, the pharmacist having this knowledge can help he/she better identify and correctly verify pills during the workflow step known as the “verification process”. Thus, ensuring patient safety. 

If you have a question, please do not hesitate to leave a comment.

***Note: Please refer to the FDA package inserts, your pharmacy’s drug information resources, your state board of pharmacy policies, and your clinical judgement prior to dispensing. And if you still have further questions please never hesitate to contact the drug manufacturer. Information in this blog post does not substitute for your own clinical judgement. ***

***Patients, please discuss all medical and pharmacy options with your physician. This blog post does not substitute for an individual one on one consultation with your physician. In all cases of emergency please always call 911***

Sam Blakemore is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

Lawson State non-credit Pharmacy Technician Program

Lawson State non-credit Pharmacy Technician Program

In 2020 the Alabama Board of Pharmacy required that pharmacy technicians registering with the board take a board approved program or pass a board recognized pharmacy technician certification examination within 6 months of registration.

Please review: 680-X-2-.14 — The Role of Technicians in Pharmacies in Alabama

Lawson State Community College now offers a non credit board approved program.

Key Facts about this program are as follows:

The program is 16 weeks in length

  • 4 weeks of Ready to Work training on soft skills, interviewing (student receives a certificate of completion for this portion)


  •  8 weeks of instruction on the role of Pharmacy Technicians in the State of Alabama


  • 4 weeks of pharmacy externship

The first session in 2020 will begin in June at the Bessemer Campus of Lawson State.

For more information regarding price please contact Lawson State at the following email


Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn

Student National Pharmaceutical Association — Samford University’s McWhorter School of Pharmacy 9/27/2019

PDF of Speech: Pharmacy Rotations, Patient Access, and Peds Rx


Pictures: coming soon…

Many thanks to the Samford Chapter of SNPhA for the invitation to speak.

Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedIn.




Pharmacy Technician Lessons 2019

The course will be completed using your standard textbooks and my lesson manual.

I will upload my personal lecture audio under this post throughout our 8 weeks together.

The lesson manual includes content covering 8 lessons, quizzes, previous final exams, and information pertaining to how to conduct yourself on externship. Please use this manual as your guide to complete this course. It will take both in class and out of class studying to complete each of the 8 lessons. Each lesson should take you at least 4 hours to cover.

Please refer back to the lessons as needed.

I will not print lessons, it is up to you to follow the material accordingly. The links are below.


Lawson State Community College

1100 Ninth Ave SW

Bessemer, AL 35022

Classroom to be used: Ethel Hall Building – Room 201

Time:  9:00am – 10:30am

PDF’s for download:

Screen Shot 2019-04-29 at 2.55.39 PM

Lessons for the Pharmacy Technician 2019

Course Syllabus May-June 2019 Lawson Pharmacy Technician



May 1, 2019 Lecture on Lesson 1 :

Part 1:

Part 2:

May 7, 2019 Lecture on Lesson 2: 

Part 1:

Part 2:

May 14, 2019 Quiz 1: 

Quiz 1 will be given on May 14, 2019. You will have 45 minutes to complete the quiz (9am – 945am). There will be a brief break and then a review of the quiz by your instructor for the remainder of the class.

Quiz 2 for May 15, 2019 will be rescheduled. We will instead cover Lesson 3 and go into more depth review of the material thus far.  We will also have a lab to get hands on knowledge of the material covered.

Homework — please continue to keep studying the top 200 drugs from your text. You should now be memorizing pages 4, 5, and 6 of the top 200 from your workbook.

Quiz 1 May 2019

Quiz 1 Answers May 2019

The class average for quiz 1 was 68%.

May 15, 2019 

May 15, 2019 Audio Part 1:

May 15, 2019 Audio Part 2:

Quiz 2 will be next Wednesday May 22, 2019 over the top 200. Use previous quizzes from last year to study for Quiz 2. There will be 75 questions on quiz 2 and you will have 1 hour to complete the quiz.

To receive extra credit on quiz 2, please look over the top 200 and type up a summary on 25 drugs of your choice. For each medication — list the brand name of the drug, the generic name of the drug, the classification of the drug, and the body part the drug acts on.

For example… ProAir HFA is an inhaler and is classified as a respiratory agent, the generic name is Albuterol HFA and the body part that the drug acts on is the lungs. The drug acts in a manner to open the airways so that a person can breath normally.

If you type up 25 drugs and do it as I’ve asked you, you can receive up to 25 points extra credit on quiz 2. Remember, it must be typed!!! And you must turn this in on Tuesday May 21, 2019 to receive credit. 

Please continue to look over the externship material. Sign the final page of the agreement, informing me that you’re committed to a 40 hour externship, and please talk to DHR and/or JCCEO to inform them of your intentions to become a registered pharmacy technician — you need to be registered prior to going on externship. This costs $103.

Tuesday May 21, 2019 we reviewed Lesson 3 and began covering Lesson 4. We finished the first problem in Lesson 5. Please work on the second question in Lesson 5 and read Chapter 6.

Audio from Tuesday May 21, 2019:

Wednesday May 22, 2019 the second quiz for this session was administered.

Quiz 2 2019 and Quiz 2 2019 – Answers

After taking into account the 25 point bonus — the class average for quiz 2 was 77.8%

A review of Chapter 6 continued during this lecture post quiz. Please continue to work on Chapter 6 and review Lesson 1-Lesson 5 for class next week.

Tuesday May 28, 2019 the third quiz was administered by Janiece. All those present received a 100% on the quiz.

Wednesday May 29, 2019 we completed Lesson 7 — please continue to review Lesson 7. We reviewed Lesson 5.

Lecture Audio May 29, 2019:

For Quiz 4 prepare in this way:

  • Memorize section A conversions from Lesson 5
  • Be prepared to answer multiple choice questions that relate to prescription examples Baby Girl Roberts, Janet Jackson, and Henry Ford from Lesson 5.
  • Lastly, review the Alligation Hydrocortisone example that can be found on page 184 in your text. This example will be used for your quiz.

June 4, 2019 the quiz will be 25 questions. We will then review Quiz 4 –> proceed to  a lab on compounding –> and review Lesson 8. 

Please review your syllabus, our time together is nearing the end. 

June 4 — Quiz 4 and practical compounding lab

June 18 — Final Exam

June 19 — Review of the Final Exam administered on the 18th and Final Grades

  • Please continue to study, work diligently on your pharmacy technician registration, work on your resume’, and begin submitting applications to local pharmacies
  • If you find a job as a pharmacy technician or as a pharmacy cashier prior to externship, you will  not have to complete an externship.

50 point extra credit!!!!!!

Write two paragraphs describing each lesson that we have completed thus far. We have completed Lessons 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7. 

Give 2 examples from each lesson and why each example is important in becoming a pharmacy technician.

For example in your paragraph you describe Pharmacy Technician Registration in the State of Alabama…

 In Lesson 1 we discussed how to become registered as a pharmacy technician. It is important that pharmacy technicians know that in the State of Alabama we register by using The annual fee is $103 with renewals occurring in odd years.

Remember 2 examples from each lesson, each example should be 1 paragraph in length. This must be typed. 12 point font. Times New Roman. Double spaced.

June 4 2019

June 4 2019 Audio

Quiz 4 2019

lab 2 2019

If anytime remains we will begin covering Lesson 8.

Externships will be emailed out this Friday June 8, 2019. It is your responsibility to contact the Pharmacy Managers/Lead Technicians to setup days that you can complete your 40 hours of training. You will have 3 weeks to complete training. You are exempt from externship if you have found a job in Pharmacy.

June 11 2019 — Janiece will cover Lesson 8/Discuss Externship

June 12 2019 — Practice Final Examination/Discuss Externship

Link to practice final exam — please use your books and internet to study

Session 2 — July 31, 2018 — Final Exam

The final exam will be 60 questions, you will have the full class session to complete.

Topics to cover: pharmacy workflow, prescription benefit card, math conversions, sig codes, pharmacy law, brand/genetics, and pharmacy math!

June 18 2019 — Final Exam/Questions/Discuss Externship — we need copies of your pharmacy tech registrations!

June 19 2019 — Final Grades/Review Final Exam/Questions/Discuss Externship

Sam Blakemore IMG_1742 is the Pharmacy Manager of Peds Rx Pharmacy Solutions. Connect with him via: LinkedInSupport the effort and BUY MERCH