Hurricane Harvey Emergency Dispensing of Prescription Medications
Governor Greg Abbott has declared a state of disaster in the following counties: Aransas, Austin, Bee, Calhoun, Chambers, Colorado, Brazoria, DeWitt, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Goliad, Gonzales, Harris, Jackson, Jefferson, Jim Wells, Karnes, Kleberg, Lavaca, Liberty, Live Oak, Matagorda, Nueces, Refugio, San Patricio, Victoria, Waller, Wharton and Wilson.
The laws and rules governing the practice of pharmacy in Texas, allow pharmacists to provide emergency refills when the prescriber cannot be reached. Specifically, in an emergency, a pharmacist may use his/her professional judgment in refilling a prescription drug order for a drug (other than a Schedule II controlled substance) provided failure to refill the prescription might result in an interruption of a therapeutic regimen or create patient suffering.
In most cases, pharmacists may not dispense more than a 72-hour supply of medication. However, in the event of a natural or manmade disaster, the Texas Pharmacy Act (Sec. 562.054) and board rule 291.34 allow a pharmacist to dispense up to a 30-day supply of a prescription drug, other than a Schedule II controlled substance, without the authorization of the prescribing practitioner if:
failure to refill the prescription might result in an interruption of a therapeutic regimen or create patient suffering;
the natural or manmade disaster prohibits the pharmacist from being able to contact the practitioner;
the governor has declared a state of disaster under Chapter 418, Government Code; and
the board, through the executive director, has notified pharmacies in this state that pharmacists may dispense up to a 30-day supply of a prescription drug.
Accordingly, Gay Dodson, R.Ph., Executive Director/Secretary, has authorized ALL pharmacists in Texas to dispense up to a 30-day supply of medication (other than a II controlled substance) for patients affected by Hurricane Harvey.
If you live in an area affected by Hurricane Harvey and you’re running low on your needed medications, the good news is you may still be able to get at least a month’s supply.
Under state law, Texas pharmacists are allowed to dispense up to a 30-day supply of a prescription drug (controlled substances, such as opioids and stimulants, excluded) during a natural disaster, without authorization from your doctor.
And no matter where you live, says Barbara Young, Pharm.D., of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, “it’s important to make sure that you have the medications you need on hand before an emergency,” she explains. “But if you end up stuck without them, you should head to your nearest pharmacy when it is safe to do so.”
To find a pharmacy, Young recommends using the online tool Rx Open. The tool provides a regularly updated map of open and closed pharmacies during a disaster—especially helpful if your local pharmacy is closed and you need prescriptions filled right away.
A Red Cross spokesperson told us that the organization provides assistance with getting medication to those who need it during disasters and has health service volunteers who can help with refilling prescriptions.
In addition, Young suggests the following four ways to manage your medications during and after an emergency:
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