by RACHEL MILLER HYAMS

by ANDREW M. STREIBER, DVM

Q:  I recently came upon a report about the California State Legislature compelling veterinarians to offer clients a written prescription for all medications, including ones a doctor might stock in his or her own hospital’s pharmacy.  Can you clarify this law for me?

A:  Speaking as a veterinarian licensed and practicing in, and a small business owner in California, I have very strong feelings about both the original law enacted in 2004 and a recent addendum which became effective earlier this year.  Though labeled the “fairness to consumers act,” I see this as nothing more than another tax burden on small businesses as lobbied for by the Big Box stores who carry many of the same medications veterinarians stock in their pharmacies.  Covering this additional expense will sadly have the same effect the rising minimum wage will have on small businesses.  Prices will rise, thus ultimately passing the burden to the very people it was designed to help: the consumer.  Below, I’ve included both the original law and the recent addendum.  I hope this helps clarify the issue.

Business and Professions Code
Sec. 4170, Article 12 Prescriber Dispensing

See also California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Division 20, Sec. 2032.2

The CA law states the following:

Senate Bill 175, approved by the Governor on 9/1/2003 and effective 1/1/2004, amends Section 4170 of the California Business and Professions Code to require vets to prescribe rather than dispense.  The relevant sections are below:

4170.  (a) No prescriber shall dispense drugs or dangerous devices to patients in his or her office or place of practice unless all of the following conditions are met:

(6) The prescriber, prior to dispensing, offers to give a written prescription to the patient that the patient may elect to have filled by the prescriber or by any pharmacy.

(7) The prescriber provides the patient with written disclosure that the patient has a choice between obtaining the prescription from the dispensing prescriber or obtaining the prescription at a pharmacy of the patient’s choice.

(b) The Medical Board of California, the State Board of Optometry, the Dental Board of California, the Osteopathic Medical Board of California, the Board of Registered Nursing, the Veterinary Medical Board, and the Physician Assistant Committee shall have authority with the California State Board of Pharmacy to ensure compliance with this section, and those boards are specifically charged with the enforcement of this chapter with respect to their respective licensees.

(c) “Prescriber,” as used in this section, means a person who holds a physician’s and surgeon’s certificate, a license to practice optometry, a license to practice dentistry, a license to practice veterinary medicine, or a certificate to practice podiatry, and who is duly registered by the Medical Board of California, the State Board of Optometry, the Dental Board of California, the Veterinary Medical Board, or the Board of Osteopathic Examiners of this state.

Business and Professions Code
Sec. 4170, Article 12 Prescriber Dispensing

See also California Code of Regulations, Title 16, Division 20, Sec. 2032.2

The prescriber, prior to dispensing, must offer to give a written prescription to the patient that the patient may elect to have filled by the prescriber or by any pharmacy. The prescriber must provide the patient with written disclosure that the patient has a choice between obtaining the prescription from the dispensing prescriber or obtaining the prescription at a pharmacy of the patient’s choice.