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Pharmacy board says “enforcement not a priority” for new security prescription law

January 02, 2019
Area(s) of Interest: Drug Prescribing/Dispensing 


On January 1, 2019, a new California law took effect that requires all security prescription forms to have a uniquely serialized number. This new law also requires California physicians who prescribe controlled substances to use updated controlled substance prescription forms effective January 1, 2019.

The legislation did not include any transition or grandfathering period to allow for continued use of old controlled substance security prescription forms on or after January 1.  And although this requirement went into effect January 1, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) only very recently issued any implementation guidance to security prescription printers.

The California Medical Association (CMA) has expressed concern to DOJ that this guidance was not given in timely enough manner for it to be implemented by physician prescribers and will result in a serious disruption of patient care.

The California Board of Pharmacy recently said it would “not make enforcement a priority” if pharmacists choose to fill prescriptions written on security prescription forms that were compliant prior to January 1, but are not compliant with the new serialization requirement. The pharmacy board has urged pharmacists and pharmacies to exercise their best professional judgement when handling these situations, to determine if it is in the best interest of the patient or public health or safety to nonetheless fill such prescriptions. Similarly, the Medical Board of California has also recently issued a memorandum emphasizing the pharmacy board's decision not to aggressively enforce the new requirement.

CMA understands that reordering security prescription forms presents a great expense for many physician practices and has urged DOJ to work with CMA and other stakeholders to ensure compliance with this new requirement in a way that does not adversely affect patient care.

Physicians should make sure their security prescription vendors are ready to comply with the new requirements. CMA's security prescription partner, RxSecurity, is now taking orders for the new uniquely serialized prescription forms. (The full list of DOJ-approved security prescription printers is available here.)

For more details, see CMA’s letter to DOJ on this issue.

CMA will provide additional information as it becomes available.

Contact: CMA legal information line, (800) 786-4262 or legalinfo@cmadocs.org.

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