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by Amanda Conschafter, blog editor

The Florida Board of Pharmacy has an answer for patients who struggle to get the pain medications their physician prescribes: pharmacist education and improved state guidelines. The board’s new rule, Standards of Practice for the Filling of Controlled Substance Prescriptions, went into effect December 24, 2015.

A board committee composed of doctors, pharmacists and drug suppliers explored Florida’s pain pill problem prior to issuing the rule. The committee heard testimony, some from frustrated patients who fought to fill legal, medically necessary prescriptions penned by their doctors. The panel’s final rule reflected these concerns.

“The Board of Pharmacy recognizes that it is important…to be able to fill valid prescriptions for controlled substances,” the rule begins. It further explains that, “pharmacists should not fear disciplinary action…for dispensing controlled substances for a legitimate medical purpose in the usual course of professional practice.” Instead, the rule encourages pharmacists to work with patients and prescribers to confirm the validity of prescriptions.

To aid pharmacists in determining which prescriptions for controlled substances are valid, the rule explains that:

Yet the board notes that questioning a prescription’s validity “does not mean the prescription shall not be filled.” Before rejecting a prescription, a pharmacist should first communicate with the patient or the prescriber to get more information. The pharmacist can also check the state prescription drug monitoring database.

Finally, the rule establishes mandatory pharmacist training on validating prescriptions for controlled substances. Every two years Florida pharmacists must now complete a two-hour course, which also provides continuing education hours required for license renewal.

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