Ruling Will Ease Distribution of Prescription Drugs by Doctors

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Nov. 12, 2012 12:00 am  

Dr. Dana Carol Abraham of Little Rock specializes in breast oncology surgery. (Photo by Michael Pirnique)

A recent ruling by a Pulaski County circuit judge will make it easier for doctors to dispense prescription medicine from their offices, a development that the Arkansas Pharmacists Association has called “dangerous.”

“There’s not a public outcry for physicians to dispense,” said Mark Riley, executive vice president of the association. “There’s not a need … here.”

But others praised the ruling.

“I think not only could it be a huge change for doctors, I think it could be a huge change for patients,” said Sam Perroni, an attorney for Dr. Dana Carol Abraham of Little Rock, who challenged the Arkansas Medical Board’s policy of strictly limiting the dispensing of prescription drugs at doctors’ offices.

As a result of Judge Chris Piazza’s bench ruling last month on a motion for summary judgment, patients will soon have the option of getting medication from their doctors, Perroni said.

For nearly 30 years, in order for a doctor to get a permit to dispense medication, he or she had to apply to the Medical Board and “show a need.” In nearly all cases, the board denied doctors’ applications. That’s what happened in 2010 to Abraham, who specializes in breast oncology surgery. She appealed the ruling to Pulaski County Circuit Court and won.

As a result of the circuit court ruling, doctors won’t have to “show a need” to obtain the permit to sell medications, Perroni said.

“All they would have to say is ‘I want to dispense. I want my permit,’” he said. “And that’s it.”

Piazza’s ruling, though, is likely to be appealed. His order was being prepared and wasn’t entered into the record as of Wednesday.

Kevin O’ Dwyer of Little Rock, the attorney for the Medical Board, told Arkansas Business last week that he would wait before the ruling was entered before deciding his next move.

“No decisions have been made,” he said. “I don’t know what the order is going to say.”

Riley, of the pharmacy association, said he thought the ruling was dangerous because a judge decided how a professional board uses its discretion.



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