Ohio's limit on prescription transfers worries independent pharmacists

December 28, 2010

Independent pharmacists in Ohio are concerned about the state?s new ruling that limits transfers on all prescriptions to one per patient.

Independent pharmacists in Ohio are concerned about the state’s new ruling that limits transfers on all prescriptions to one per patient.

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy rule change, which goes into effect January 1, 2011, mimics the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) controlled substances regulation, which limits transfers on prescriptions for controlled substances to one.

The Ohio Board expanded the state rule to all prescriptions  - not just controlled substances - while exempting prescriptions that are “maintained within a real-time, online pharmacy system.” Because national chain drugstores, mass merchandisers, and supermarket chains all have Internet prescription systems, the exemption is unfair to smaller pharmacies, independent pharmacists say.

“This allows companies like Wal-Mart and Walgreens to transfer prescriptions more than one time within their system, but I cannot. People don’t know that they can only transfer one time, so they might transfer [the script] to Walgreens, then they are stuck there, without going through getting a new prescription from a doctor,” said Ray Poorbaugh, owner of Gromoll Drug Store, Sebring, Ohio.

However, the rule change should actually help independent pharmacies in the state, said William T. Winsley, MS, RPh, executive director of the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy. “I don’t know too many independents that are offering transfer coupons, so they are losing business right now. There are ways to work with their patients and the doctors to make this work,” Winsley said.

The limit on prescription transfers came about because the board was concerned about increased errors connected with prescriptions transferred multiple times, as well as the use of multiple transfers by people with drug-abuse problems, Winsley said. “The questionable marketing practices of some pharmacies in offering coupons for transfers has resulted in some ludicrous situations, to the point that the board is concerned about patient safety. Some people transfer every refill,” Winsley said.