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Last week, the Washington State Department of Health announced new regulations that will impact the practice of prescribing certain controlled substances to patients.

Beginning July 28, 2013, all Schedule III, IV and V controlled substances must be dispensed pursuant to a written, oral, or electronically transmitted prescription.  The new law supersedes WAC 246-887-030, which allowed for dispensing of certain Schedule V substances without a prescription if intended specifically for the medical purpose(s) indicated on the manufacturer’s label. 

RCW 69.50.308 Prescriptions.

(3)(e)  Except when dispensed directly by a practitioner authorized to prescribe or administer a controlled substance, other than a pharmacy, to an ultimate user, a substance included in Schedule III, IV, or V, which is a prescription drug as determined under RCW 69.04.560, may not be dispensed without a written, oral, or electronically communicated prescription of a practitioner. Any oral prescription must be promptly reduced to writing.

(3)(f) The prescription for a substance included in Schedule III, IV, or V may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the date issued by the practitioner or be refilled more than five times, unless renewed by the practitioner.

The new law is a result of the passage of Senate Bill 5416, which amended the Uniform Controlled Substances Act.  Signed by Governor Inslee in May, SB 5416 is another maneuver by the State of Washington to improve patient care and help stop prescription drug misuse.  The State’s prescription monitoring program, which catalogues all the records for Schedule II, III, IV and V drugs, has been in operation for nearly two years.

A complete list of Schedule III, IV and V drugs can be viewed by visiting the Department of Justice website.

If you have any additional questions about the dispensing of controlled substances, please contact WSDA's Government Affairs Coordinator, Mike Walsh at or 800-448-3368.

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