Practitioners who have established in-office dispensing as a convenience to patients, as well as the patients who look to their doctor to dispense medications, are going to see those systems impacted by a recent bill signed by the Governor. In yet another measure intended to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic in Delaware, Senate Bill 119 was signed into law on July 3, 2013 to limit the in-office dispensing of controlled substances.
The law provides that any practitioner permitted to dispense controlled substances shall only be permitted to dispense the amount deemed medically necessary for a 72 hour supply. The synopsis of the bill indicates that this represents an “emergency supply,” though those words do not appear in the statute. Therefore, there is some indication that the General Assembly does not believe practitioners should be dispensing controlled substances from their offices as a matter of course, but only in cases of emergencies. The dispensing practitioners are also explicitly subject to the reporting requirements of the Delaware Prescription Monitoring Program.
It is clear that lawmakers want to monitor who is dispensing, when that person is dispensing, and how much that person is dispensing. It is important to note, however, that the law only limits dispensing, and does not impact the prescribing of controlled substances.