CHA News Article

Board of Pharmacy Takes Emergency Action Related to Wildfires

In response to the states of emergency declared by Gov. Brown as a result of wildfires in northern California, the California State Board of Pharmacy has acted to enable pharmacies to provide prescription medication under emergency circumstances. The board granted a waiver to pharmacies in the counties of Lake, Napa, Amador and Calaveras – as well as the immediately adjacent counties – allowing a pharmacist to provide, without full compliance with pharmacy law, medically necessary prescription drugs that a patient would otherwise be deprived of if, in the pharmacist’s professional judgment, it is in the best interest of a patient. The waiver will remain in effect until the Governor removes the emergency declaration or unless subsequently modified by the board, and it is subject to the additional limitations listed below.

  1. A pharmacist may dispense a medication without an underlying prescription if:
    • The pharmacist determines the medication is medically necessary.
    • The benefits to the patient outweigh the risk to the patient.
    • The patient provides the name of the prescriber.
    • The pharmacy documents its actions (e.g., creates an order similar to one accepting a prescription order over the phone), and the documentation reflects that it was dispensed pursuant to an emergency authorization.
    • The medication is not a sterile compounded drug.
    • The medication is not a controlled substance.
    • The quantity of medication provided is determined by the judgment of the pharmacist, but does not exceed a 30-day supply.
    • The pharmacist makes an attempt to validate the dispensing history through commercially available methods.
    • The pharmacy attempts to contact the prescriber.
  2. Hospital inpatient pharmacies may dispense to outpatients in excess of the 1 percent limit on total outpatient prescriptions currently established in law.  Such dispensing is exempt from prescription labeling requirements. However, the label must include the same elements the hospital would provide on medication to a patient being discharged from the hospital.

More information is available at