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)

“The Legislature set up those boards to protect public health with a specific emphasis on the profession that they regulate,” Riley said.

The Arkansas Medical Society didn’t take a position on the issue.

“Certainly there will be some physicians who will want to dispense,” H. Scott Smith, director of governmental affairs for the Medical Society, told Arkansas Business last week. “There are physicians who want to dispense now, and that’s why you’ve got the case.”

The Case

Abraham asked the Medical Board for a permit to dispense prepackaged medicine from her office “to improve patient compliance, to promote patient safety,” according to a transcript of her December 2010 hearing before the Medical Board, which was filed as part of her lawsuit. Her application was denied because she didn’t show a need.

“The reason for the denial was never completely articulated, but ranged from the fact that Dr. Abraham’s office was 0.6 miles from the nearest drug store to Board members failing to understand how dispensing [prescription] drugs would be economically feasible for [Abraham],” according to Abraham’s lawsuit.

She appealed the ruling to the Pulaski County Circuit Court. She argued the language was vague in the 1983 statute that dealt with permits.

Before 1983, doctors in Arkansas could dispense medicine without a permit. In 1983, though, the General Assembly passed a bill that said doctors must go before the Medical Board and show a need before receiving a permit to dispense medicine.

“It was fatally ambiguous,” Perroni said. “Because the statute contained no definition for showing of the need, the need could be interpreted several ways. … When you start looking at the definition of need, you’re just all over the place.”

He said the only reason the legislation was passed was to protect the financial interests of the pharmacists. “There was no rebutting that,” Perroni said. “That went unchallenged.”

He said that when the Medical Board evaluated an application, board members didn’t consider what was best for the patient.

The Medical Board’s attorney, O’Dwyer, said he challenged the accusation about the origination of the 1983 law. “I disagreed with that,” he said. “I mean, you’re talking about legislation that occurred almost 30 years ago.”



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