In an attempt to curb prescription opioid abuse, recent laws allow pharmacists to partially fill opioid prescriptions.
Federal law now allows prescriptions for C II opioid medications, such as Oxycontin and Vicodin, to be partially filled by pharmacists at the request of patients or doctors, reducing the number of unused painkillers in circulation.
"So on the federal level, there was new legislation last year under the CARA, the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that includes some of this Partial Fill Law. Basically stating that any C2 or controlled substance class 2 medication can be partially filled and then continued to be filled throughout the coming month, or 30 days," said Mark Garofoli, Certified Pain Educator at the WVU School of Pharmacy.
The law is more strict within the state of West Virginia. Prescriptions must be filled within 72 hours or three days.
"Controlled substances are classified based on their medical use, and also their chance for forming of habit, or even sometimes referred to as drug abuse. C2 is which this law will be pertaining to, have certainly accepted medical use, but have a relatively high level of habit formation as a possibility," said Garofoli.
The new partial fill legislation is empowering patients and doctors to work together to determine appropriate pain treatment, while limiting the number of unused pills left in family medicine cabinets. Pharmacists also play a key role in this process.
"Being on the front lines as a pharmacist, that's something that's very important again, for the education of our patients. And it's really teamwork along the way. I always live by the idea that when somebody walks into a pharmacy, they better be leaving with more education when they leave. Not just the medication or treatment, but also the education along the way, and that's what we're here for," said Garofoli.