Pharmacists have a Corresponding Responsibility with the Prescriber to Prevent Drug Diversion

Article after article is out there on preventing drug diversion, and the pharmacists' corresponding responsibility with the prescriber to ensure the prescriptions they dispense are legitimate.  Nonetheless, it is worth repeating.  So, here is an excerpt from the DEA's Pharmacist Manual, "SECTION IX – VALID PRESCRIPTION REQUIREMENTS", directly on point:

Corresponding Responsibility

A pharmacist also needs to know there is a corresponding responsibility for the pharmacist who fills the prescription. An order purporting to be a prescription issued not in the usual course of professional treatment or in legitimate and authorized research is an invalid prescription within the meaning and intent of the CSA (21 U.S.C. § 829). The person knowingly filling such a purported prescription, as well as the person issuing it, shall be subject to the penalties provided for violations of the provisions of law relating to controlled substances.

A pharmacist is required to exercise sound professional judgment when making a determination about the legitimacy of a controlled substance prescription. Such a determination is made before the prescription is dispensed. The law does not require a pharmacist to dispense a prescription of doubtful, questionable, or suspicious origin. To the contrary, the pharmacist who deliberately ignores a questionable prescription when there is reason to believe it was not issued for a legitimate medical purpose may be prosecuted along with the issuing practitioner, for knowingly and intentionally distributing controlled substances. Such action is a felony offense, which may result in the loss of one’s business or professional license (see United States v. Kershman, 555 F.2d 198 [United States Court Of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, 1977]).


West Virginia law incorporates this same duty in Rule Section 15-2-7.4.  This is a responsibility that the pharmacist must be aware of, and cannot ignore.

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