Pharmacies May be Liable for Filling Valid Prescriptions

Lance Leider headshotBy Lance O. Leider, J.D.

Florida pharmacies have had their potential liability significantly expanded by the Fifth District Court of Appeal. In its recent decision, Oleckna v. Daytona Discount Pharmacy, the appellate court held that a pharmacy owes a duty to its patients that go beyond following the prescribing physician’s directions and properly dispensing the medication.

The court defined the pharmacy’s duty to use due care in filling a prescription to mean more than what it called “robotic compliance” with the instructions of the prescribing physician.

From the court’s decision and some others from around the state it would seem that Florida pharmacists are now under an obligation to question the quantity, frequency, dosage, combination, and possibly even the purpose of a valid prescription. Florida pharmacies are no longer simply a conduit for validly prescribed prescription medications. They are now an integral part of the health care system where trained professionals are expected to act as a check and balance on physicians and other prescribers.

This decision is in keeping with recent Florida Board of Pharmacy cases dealing with narcotic pain medications. The Board has interpreted Section 465.003(6), Florida Statutes, and Rule 64B16-27.820, Florida Administrative Code, to place a duty on a pharmacist to use his or her skill and experience to evaluate the propriety of every prescription presented on a global level.

While courts and the Board are more than willing to expand the scope of a pharmacist’s duty to his or her patients, unfortunately, neither have provided any prospective guidance on how to fulfill the duty.

Suggestions for Compliance.

Below are some suggestions for ensuring your pharmacy is fulfilling its obligation to its patients. This list is by no means exhaustive and is only intended to offer some basic guidance.

1. Know the physician and verify the credentials of an unfamiliar one;
2. Check the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP);
3. Do not fill prescriptions that are more than 30 days old without verifying them with the prescribing physician;
4. Question higher than normal dosages and more frequent administration instructions;
5. Do not provide early refills without verifiable documentation and contact the physician when the patient is seeking an early refill on a medication with a high potential for abuse (the physician is usually in the best position to recognize drug seeking behaviors);
6. Flag concerning prescriptions for mandatory counseling prior to dispensing to give you an opportunity to discuss the risks with the patient;
7. Check the patient’s profile for interactions and discuss them with the patient and, if necessary, the prescribing physician;
8. Periodically check with the prescribing physician on long term medications;
9. Document everything done to verify the propriety of a prescription in the patient’s record; and
10. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to refuse a fill.

In addition to these steps, you should also be conducting regular staff meetings and routine reviews of your processes to ensure that they remain functional and able to be followed.

Comments?

Do you think a pharmacy or pharmacist should be held liable for filling valid prescriptions? How do you verify you or your employees are in compliance? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: Lance O. Leider is an attorney with The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, Florida 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2015 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

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Florida Toughens Up Drug Compounding Law for Out-of-State Pharmacies

8 Indest-2008-5By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law

A new, stricter law on Florida’s compounding pharmacy industry took effect October 1, 2014.
The new law increases the restrictions for out-of-state compounding pharmacies and outsourcing facilities that ship medications into Florida. The law also gives the Florida Board of Pharmacy and Florida Department of Health (DOH) more power to oversee and penalize these companies. Click here to read the new law.

The law was enacted to increase the standards for compounding pharmacies that create medications that are supposed to be tailored to the needs of individual patients. In an effort to prevent another nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis, similar efforts to tighten control on compounding pharmacies have been implemented by other states across the country. Click here to read a prior blog on the fungal meningitis outbreak.

The Lowdown on the New Law.

The bill requires an out-of-state compounding pharmacy or an outsourcing facility to obtain a nonresident sterile compounding permit before shipping products into Florida. Any currently-registered nonresident pharmacies must be permitted by February 28, 2015. However, all compounded sterile products shipped, mailed, delivered, or dispensed into the Sunshine State must meet Florida’s standards for sterile compounding.

The law establishes application and inspection requirements for the nonresident sterile compounding permit, as well as increased responsibilities for the Florida DOH and the Board of Pharmacy.

Under the law, the Florida DOH and Board of Pharmacy are given enhanced oversight for these out-of-state compounding pharmacies, including the authority to inspect a pharmacy or sterile compounding permittee; the cost of which is picked up by the pharmacy or permittee. The Board is authorized to discipline a nonresident pharmacy for conduct which causes or could cause serious injury, without waiting 180 days for the resident state to act. The Board is also authorized to discipline nonresident pharmacies and sterile compounding permittees for specified acts of noncompliance.

New Standards Triggered by Tainted Compounded Medications.

These new standards are being implemented two years after a nationwide outbreak of fungal meningitis linked to contaminated drugs made by a compounding pharmacy in Massachusetts. Florida is no stranger to allegations of tainted compounded products. In May 2012, Franck’s pharmacy in Ocala, Florida, was accused of distributing eye medications that contained a fungal infection. To read more: click here for the first blog and here for the second blog.

It’s likely these new permits are a direct result of the recent issues with compounded medications and compounding pharmacies. The goal of these permits is to help authorities, such as the DOH and the Board of Pharmacy, track pharmacies compounding sterile products.

Comments?

What do you think of the law to increase restrictions on out-of-state compounding pharmacies that ship medications into Florida? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

Sources:

Shedden, Mary. “Tougher Compounding Rules Finally Law.” Health News Florida. (September 30, 2014). From: http://bit.ly/1xBQtS0

Florida House Bill 7077

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2014 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.

Florida Legislature Reforms Pharmacy Benefit Manager Audit Practices

1 Indest-2008-1According to the Florida Legislature, it’s time for pharmacists to focus on their patients instead of paperwork. On June 13, 2014, Florida Governor Rick Scott signed Florida Senate Bill 702 into law. This law introduces clear guidelines of acceptable audit practices of pharmacies in the Sunshine State.

There are more than 2,700 pharmacies across Florida that are routinely evaluated by Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs). The purpose of these audits is to verify that certain claims are submitted and handled properly. If a PBM audit uncovers fraud or abuse, the pharmacy will be subject to penalties, including reimbursement of amounts paid. With the increase of rules regulating pharmacies, these audits have progressively become more time consuming for pharmacists.

Florida SB 702 becomes effective on October 1, 2014. To read a summary of the law, click here.

What’s the Need of the New Law?

In the United States, a PBM is most often a third party administrator of prescription drug programs. The PBM is primarily responsible for processing and paying prescription drug claims.
Currently, PBMs have broad discretion to penalize pharmacies. This means that pharmacies can be forced to pay thousands of dollars as the result of basic clerical or typographical mistakes, many of which are not the fault of the pharmacist or pharmacy staff. This law was enacted to provide reasonable standards for pharmacy audits while allowing PBMs to continue penalizing for true fraud and abuse.

Pharmacy Rights Included in New Law.

SB 702 makes common-sense auditing standards that include:

–    At least seven days advance notice before an on-site audit is conducted;
–    On-site audits scheduled after the first three days of the month;
–    A limit on the audit period of 24 months after the date claim is submitted;
–    Audits requiring clinical judgment must be conducted by or with a pharmacist;
–    Use of written practitioner records to validate pharmacy records in accordance with state and federal law;
–    Reimbursement of claims retroactively denied for clerical, typographical or computer errors unless pharmacy has a pattern of fraudulent billing;
–    Delivery of initial audit reports to pharmacists within 120 days after an audit is completed;
–    Receipt of final audit report within six months of the preliminary report;
–    Allowing 10 days for pharmacists to provide documentation to address any discrepancies found during an audit;
–    Prohibiting the use of extrapolations in auditing claims; and
–    The Office of Insurance Regulation will study pharmacy complaints of willful violations of audit provisions by PBMs.

Stipulation of Rights.

The rights listed above do not apply to audits that are based on suspicions of fraud or willful misrepresentation; audits of claims paid for by federally funded programs; or concurrent reviews or desk audits that occur within three business days after transmission where no chargeback or recoupment is demanded.

An entity that audits a pharmacy located within a Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team Task Force area designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) is not required to provide seven days prior notice of an audit if the pharmacy has been a member of a credentialed provider network for less than 12 months.

What This Means for You.

For once there is a new law that does not make a pharmacist’s job more complicated. This law may actually alleviate some of the stress that comes with dealing with an audit. We’re hoping with the implementation of this law pharmacists will be able to spend more time focusing on patient care.

Comments?

What do you think of this new law? Will it affect your pharmacy? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.

Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Pharmacies and Pharmacists.

The Health Law Firm represents pharmacists and pharmacies in DEA, DOH and FDA investigations, regulatory matters, licensing issues, litigation, administrative hearings, inspections and audits. The firm’s attorneys include those who are board certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law as well as licensed health professionals who are also attorneys.

To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.

About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.

 

“The Health Law Firm” is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. – The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999.
Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.