If you work in a pharmacy in California, I am sure you are aware of the new e-prescribing requirement that took effect on January 1, 2022. Because I’ve been receiving many calls from pharmacists regarding this new law, I decided to create this post and clarify a few points.

In a nutshell, the new law requires California prescribers to transmit electronic prescriptions (in lieu of paper/faxed/oral scripts) and pharmacies to have the capability to receive these transmissions.

Some exemptions apply. Namely, a prescriber can still issue a paper prescription or fax/call it to the pharmacy if:

  • the prescription is for a terminally ill patient;
  • the prescriber experiences a temporary technological or electrical failure;
  • the prescription to be dispensed by a pharmacy located outside California;
  • the prescription is issued in a hospital emergency department or urgent care clinic under certain scenarios (see the bill for more information);
  • the prescription is issued by a veterinarian;
  • the prescription is for eyeglasses or contact lenses;
  • the prescribing health care practitioner and the dispenser are the same entity;
  • the prescription is issued under circumstances whereby the prescriber reasonably determines that it would be impractical for the patient to obtain the medication by an electronic data transmission prescription in a timely manner, and the delay would adversely impact the patient’s medical condition;
  • the prescription includes elements not covered by the latest version of the NSPSP SCRIPT standard;
  • a prescription is for an inmate, individual on parole, or youth under the jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

As you can see, there are many exemptions and some of them are very broad. The good news is that the pharmacy does not need to verify that a written, oral, or faxed prescription satisfies the specified exemptions. The compliance in this respect is on the prescriber. The pharmacy, however, should immediately notify the prescriber if the electronic data transmission prescription fails, is incomplete, or is otherwise not appropriately received.

The bottom line: your pharmacy should have the ability to accept e-scripts. If you still receive “traditional” handwritten/faxed/phoned-in prescriptions, you can continue filling them as long as such prescriptions are compliant in all other aspects.