Washington state makes key changes to controlled substance laws

Veterinarians in Washington state need to be aware of a few important changes to the controlled substance laws that will soon take effect.

Beginning July 28, 2013, practitioners will only be allowed to dispense Schedule III through V controlled substances via written, oral, or electronically transmitted prescription, the State of Washington Department of Health reported. The law specifies that "any oral prescription must be promptly reduced to writing."

The only exception to the new prescription rules is if a practitioner who is authorized to prescribe or administer a controlled substance dispenses the substance directly to the ultimate user.

The new law supersedes WAC 246-887-030, which enabled practitioners to dispense some Schedule V controlled substances without a prescription.

Another stipulation of the law is that a prescription for any substance designated Schedule III through V may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the practitioner-issued date, or be refilled more than five times unless renewed by the practitioner.

New prescription reporting rules now in effect

Beginning June 28, 2013, pharmacies and licensed veterinarians in Washington were required to begin observing the following rules concerning the reporting of Schedule II through V controlled substances to the Washington State Prescription Monitoring Program.

  1. The reporting frequency is now quarterly not weekly, veterinarians can now submit data on a paper form via fax or mail, and the data fields that must be reported were changed.
  2. The first reporting period for veterinarians (under the new rule) will be July 1, 2013, to Sept. 30, 2013.
  3. The report for this period will be due no later than Oct. 10, 2013, based on the new quarterly schedule outlined in the rule

The State of Washington Department of Health also clarified that drugs dispensed for one-day use do not need to be reported to the Prescription Monitoring Program.

The organization advises those with questions to visit its FAQ for Veterinarians page.

NEWStat Legislation & regulation