Iowa Legislature Sends Bill Imposing Additional Requirements for Prescription Monitoring Program Reporting to Governor for Signature

by Dorsey & Whitney LLP
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Last week, with bipartisan support, both the Iowa House and Senate passed, unanimously, HF 2377   (“An Act Relating to the Regulation of Certain Substances, Including the Regulation of the Practice of Pharmacy, Providing Penalties, and Including Effective Date Provisions”). The bill is expected to be signed into law by the Governor in the coming days.

Like many other states throughout the country, Iowa has taken steps to increase the State’s regulation of opioid prescriptions in the wake of a national opioid epidemic. The new law will impact the operations of prescribers and pharmacies.  New requirements state that most prescribing practitioners must register with the State’s prescription drug monitoring program (PMP) and check the PMP database prior to prescribing an opioid.  The current law encourages, but does not require, practitioners to check the PMP database prior to writing a prescription for an opioid. The new law will also require pharmacies and prescribers that furnish, dispense, or supply controlled substances identified in Iowa Code 124.544(1)(g) to submit information to the PMP regarding the prescription within one business day of dispensing the controlled substance.  Current law at Iowa Admin. r. 657-37.3(3) exempts prescribers who administer or dispensed a controlled substances for purposes of outpatient care from this reporting requirement. Additionally, beginning January 1, 2020, unless an exemption applies, every prescription issued for a controlled substance must be transmitted to a pharmacy electronically. The bill also establishes continuing education requirements for licensed individuals prescribing opioids.

Prescribers should be aware that, similar to legislation passed in other states, beginning February 1, 2019, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy will provide annual reports to prescribers which are aimed at showing prescribers how they compare to their peers.  Each year, prescribing practitioners will receive a summary of the prescriber’s history of prescribing controlled substances and a comparison to others in the same profession or specialty. Additionally, the Iowa Board of Pharmacy will provide specific notifications to prescribing practitioners and pharmacists regarding patients that may be doctor or pharmacy shopping or be at risk of abusing or misusing controlled substances.

The bill also includes a “Good Samaritan Law” that provides immunity from prosecution under laws such as drug possession, for persons who call 911 to seek help for a drug overdose.  The immunity is not available for drug dealers or repeat offenders.

 Practitioners and pharmacies should prepare now by implementing immediate changes to their policies and procedures in order to comply with the new requirements under HF 2377.  Changes would include requirements for prescribers to enroll in the PMP database, report to the PMP database within 1 business day of dispensing a controlled substance, and check the PMP database prior to writing a prescription for a controlled substance.  Software security changes may also need to be implemented by January 1, 2020 in order to accommodate the new electronic prescribing requirements for controlled substances.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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