By Shannon Dart
On December 5, 2022, the California Board of Pharmacy’s President reissued a pharmacy law waiver for prescribers dispensing medication to emergency room patients. This waiver lasts approximately six months, from December 5, 2022, to May 28, 2023. The reissue of the waiver was created within the scope of Governor Newsom’s declaration of a State of Emergency, the federal government’s declaration of national emergency, and California Business and Professions Code section 4062, which California’s Board of Pharmacy is bound by. Although Governor Newsom had previously announced the State of Emergency would end on February 28, 2023, as provided in section 4062, the Board may elect to continue to waive application of any provisions for up to 90 days following termination of the declared emergency.
California’s Board of Pharmacy states the waiver effectively “[w]aive(s) provisions related to the prohibition against a prescriber to dispensing medications to an emergency room patient if the medication dispensed is a short-acting, beta-agonist inhalation products.” These provisions are part of Business and Professions Code section 4068(a), which states: “Notwithstanding any provision of this chapter, a prescriber may dispense a dangerous drug, including a controlled substance, to an emergency room patient if all of the following apply”: and lists seven requirements for section (a) to be met. The waiver effectively waives the requirements of subsections (1), (5), and (6), which require (1): a pharmacy to be closed and no pharmacist in the hospital, (5): “The prescriber determines that it is in the best interest of the patient that a particular drug regimen be immediately commenced or continued, and the prescriber reasonably believes that a pharmacy located outside the hospital is not available and accessible at the time of dispensing to the patient,” and (6): “The quantity of drugs dispensed to any patient pursuant to this section are limited to that amount necessary to maintain uninterrupted therapy during the period when pharmacy services outside the hospital are not readily available or accessible, but shall not exceed a 72-hour supply.”
The waiver of subsections (1), (5), and (6) only applies if the drug dispensed is a short-acting, beta-agonist inhalation drug (commonly known as SABAs). SABAs are used as a fast-acting, temporary relief for asthma symptoms. The most common SABAs are albuterol and levalbuterol and dispensed in an inhaler.