Starting next summer, California licensed pharmacies offering automatic prescription refill programs will be subject to new constraints and limitations. California recently approved new Board of Pharmacy regulations, which go into effect as of July 1, 2022, and are in direct response to media coverage and patient complaints regarding the negative consequences of auto-refill programs throughout the state.
The California Board of Pharmacy (CA BOP) indicated that the new rules were a reaction to allegations of unauthorized or unsolicited enrollment in auto-refill programs, leading to the receipt of unwanted or unneeded medications and related challenges with returns and refunds. As such, the CA BOP set forth to establish parameters for pharmacies with auto-refill programs, aiming to prevent auto-refills of unwanted or unneeded prescriptions and better protect patients.
According to the new regulations, California will allow pharmacies to automatically refill prescriptions for patients enrolled in the pharmacy’s automatic refill program only if certain requirements are met, including (but not limited to) the following:
There are limited exceptions to the CA BOP’s new regulations, such as for licensed health facilities (as defined under California law) and for pharmacies automatically refilling prescriptions for inmates of an adult correctional facility or a juvenile detention facility. Otherwise, CA BOP-licensed pharmacies may only offer auto-refill programs in California if they comply with the new regulations.
It is important to note that pharmacies offering auto-refill programs still need to consider other state and federal laws impacting licensure and reimbursement. Pharmacies operating or wishing to implement auto-refill programs (in California and beyond) should consider the following: