Captial Capsules


Capital Capsules for 4/16/01



Pharmacy groups protest written patient consent in privacy rule

Ten pharmacy groups are urging HHS secretary Tommy Thompson to drop the patient "written prior consent requirement" from final medical record privacy regulations.

"This requirement represents a fundamental operational change in how patients interact with pharmacies and how pharmacies interact with patients," the groups said. They also said that no state currently requires a patient's written authorization on file at the pharmacy before a medication can be dispensed. AMCP, AACP, ACCP, APhA, ASCP, ASHP, FMI, NACDS, NCSPAE, and PCMA comprise the group.

Only NCPA, among major pharmacy organizations, expressed support for written patient consent for treatment and payment. That position "is consistent with our traditional support of the confidential relationships among physicians, pharmacists, and their patients," NCPA said in comments to Thompson. They suggested a clarification in the regulation to ensure that R.Ph.s could fill an Rx and then obtain a one-time consent before dispensing.

NCPA also disputed opponents of the regulation who say it would complicate having someone other than the patient pick up the Rx. "Some groups in our sector, primarily those not representing pharmacists, claim the rule prevents family or friends of the consenting patient to pick up the patient's prescription," NCPA said. "That is not the case, and [the rule] was amended to specifically rely on the professional judgment of the pharmacist."

High court to rule on medicinal pot

The nine justices of the Supreme Court are expected to decide by summer whether marijuana can be smoked for medicinal purposes. They heard oral arguments last month in a California case growing out of the state's 1996 voter initiative approving cannabis use when proven medically necessary. The government took the case to the high court after an appeals court ruled in favor of the proposition. At least eight other states followed California's lead and have medical marijuana laws on their books.

Thompson favors FDA authority over cigarettes

HHS secretary Tommy Thompson expressed personal support for granting the FDA authority to regulate tobacco products, but the White House declined to discuss President Bush's position on the issue. President Clinton directed the FDA to draft rules in 1996 aimed at limiting smoking by teenagers, but the Supreme Court blocked the effort. By a 5-4 vote last year, the Court said Congress had not given the FDA the power to regulate tobacco.

FTC charges First DataBank with acquiring a monopoly

First DataBank's 1998 acquisition of rival Medi-Span is being challenged by the FTC, which charged the parent Hearst Trust with illegally withholding key information required for a pre-merger antitrust review. The FTC has asked a federal court to order Hearst to create a new competitor to replace Medi-Span and forfeit all profits from "anticompetitive price increases" in its integratable Rx data files.

Michael F. Conlan
Washington Bureau Chief


Mike Conlan. Captial Capsules. Drug Topics 2001;8:19.

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