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Pharmacist FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for Pharmacists on Transferring Prescriptions


Q: Is a pharmacy required to transfer a prescription upon a patient’s request?

A: Board Rule .1806 (21 NCAC 46.1806) governs the transfer of prescriptions, specifically stating that “[t]he transfer of prescription information for the purpose of refill dispensing is permissible between pharmacies” so long as other requirements in the rule are met.  From time to time, Board staff field calls from pharmacists who assert that because the rule says a transfer is “permissible,” a pharmacist is not obligated to transfer a prescription upon the request of a patient or someone communicating a request on behalf of a patient.  Board staff does not agree with this interpretation.  The rule’s use of “permissible” simply makes clear that transfers are lawful.  Moreover, a patient’s choice of pharmacy provider must not be impeded by refusal to transfer.  Refusal to transfer can lead to a delay in care for a patient, with the attendant risk of harm to the patient.  Such harm to a patient would be a potential violation of Rule .1806 and a potential basis for finding negligence in the practice of pharmacy.


Q: May a pharmacy transfer prescription drugs to another pharmacy?

A: North Carolina Wholesale Prescription Drug Distributors Laws provide (N.C.G.S. 106-145.2(10)(e)): "The sale, purchase, or trade of a prescription drug or an offer to sell, purchase or trade a prescription drug for emergency medical reasons. Emergency medical reasons include transfers of prescription drugs by a retail pharmacy to another retail pharmacy to alleviate a temporary shortage when the gross dollar value of the transfer does not exceed 5% of the total prescription drug sales revenue of either the transferor or transferee pharmacy during a 12 consecutive month period."

Transfers between pharmacies that fall outside these guidelines would require a North Carolina wholesaler license. Note that the simple sale of excess stock to another pharmacy would be a wholesale activity. Pharmacists should also be aware that federal pedigree requirements could bear on transfers. And transfer of controlled substances between pharmacies requires compliance with all pertinent provisions of the federal Controlled Substances Act and associated regulations.


Q: May a technician, certified technician, or pharmacy student transfer or receive transfers of prescriptions for controlled substances?

A: Under federal law, an original prescription for a C-III, C-IV, or C-V substance may be transferred for refill on a one-time basis. If pharmacies electronically share a “real-time, on-line database,” then those sharing pharmacies “may transfer up to the maximum refills permitted by law and the prescriber’s authorization.” 21 C.F.R. § 1306.25(a).

Federal law, however, requires that any transfer of a C-III, C-IV, or C-V prescription be “communicated directly between two licensed pharmacists . . . .” 21 C.F.R. § 1306.25(a)(1).


Q: Can prescriptions be transferred more than once in North Carolina?

A: Yes, provided that refill authorizations still exist and there are restrictions on controlled substances. Prescriptions for non-controlled drugs can be transferred from one store to another indefinitely providing that refill authorizations do exist.

Federal rules (1306.25(a)) permit multiple transfers of controlled substances, provided that authorization exists, only for those pharmacies that share a real time on-line electronic database. Other pharmacies are limited to one transfer only under federal rules.


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