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HB 353 Electronic Prescribing Requirements for Controlled Substances (Amends Controlled Substance Act)

Signed into law on Oct. 17, 2018 by Governor Wolfe.
Primary Sponsor: Rep. Nesbit (Bulter and Mercer counties).

 Introduced in the House on June of 2017, Passed by Senate on June of 2018.

  • Amends the Controlled Substance Act requiring that all Controlled Substance Prescriptions be sent electronically by Prescribers.
  • Goal is diversion prevention.
  • Exclusions: Veterinary, Compounds, Hospice, Temporary Electronic Issues.
  • Requires that regulations be promulgated within 180 days of the effective date to allow for implementation.
For the complete HB 353 Electronic Prescribing Requirements for Controlled Substances information: here.

To read full text: here.

Strongly recommend that all Pharmacists read the bill and look for coming DRAFT regulations. PSHP will keep you updated as this moves forward.


SB 978: The Hospice and Home Health Prescription Medication Disposal Act

Signed into law on June 22, 2018 by Governor Wolfe.

Became effective in 60 days.
Relevance: to health systems and pharmacy programs that have or work with hospice or home care programs / agencies. 

Bill highlights: 
“A home health agency or hospice is authorized, upon the death or discharge of a patient and with the permission of the patient or the patient's family member, caregiver or health care representative, to accept for disposal a patient's unused prescription medications that were prescribed, dispensed or otherwise used by the patient while under the care of the home health agency or hospice.”

Intent is to facilitate timely disposal of medications in the home of patients by a nurse employed by a home health agency or hospice. Key provisions are:

  • Provider must have policy to implement practice
  • Permission of caregiver or patient is required
  • A nurse employed must prepare a list of medications with quantity to be disposed
  • Medications must be disposed of in the home: transport from home is not permitted; a witness is required.
  • The method of disposal is not addressed
  • A copy of the disposal list must be provided to caregiver or patient

For complete SB 978: The Hospice and Home Health Prescription Medication Disposal Act: here.


Other Issues of Concern


  • SB 780: Telemedicine Act
  • SB 418 (Reintroduced as SB 456): Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Trainee Requirements (Pharm Tech Registration)
  • HB 1987 Restrictions on Fentanyl Prescribing and Care Settings
  • SB655 Opioid Advisory Committee 


SB 780: Telemedicine Act

Primary Sponsor: Senator Vogel.

Introduced in June 2017, Passed by Senate in June 2018.
Referred to House Professional Licensure Committee on June 19, 2018, Report Bill as Amended 9/24/18, amendments including adding podiatrists and changing wording on insurance coverage, and defining what can be provided via telemedicine.  But removed from the table 9/25/18.

  • Pharmacists are included in the definition of “Provider” also known as “Health Care Provider” throughout the bill.
  • Providers that are licensed in Pennsylvania will be able to practice telemedicine as long as they follow the regulations developed by the corresponding licensure board.
  • Each board will be responsible to develop temporary regulations within 120 days after the proposed bill goes into effect and promulgate regulations for telemedicine within 24 months.
  • Providers must obtain informed consent from the patient.
  • Providers must administer an appropriate assessment when utilizing telemedicine services.
  • Providers may use interactive audio without video if used with store and forward.
  • A health insurer must reimburse a participating network provider the same amount as if the encounter was in person.
  • Services that would be covered by medical assistance if completed in person shall be covered if completed by telemedicine.

The current bill and its history can be found here

Important for pharmacists to be considered independent practitioners and not to have the state board structure this in terms of collaborative practice. An area where PSHP would need to make recommendations to the Board (after reviewing NABP documents related to telemedicine). Our main priority was to help support the Board of Pharmacy in addressing the requirement for temporary regulations to implement the bill. We are developing a statement for the board the differentiates “dispensing” telepharmacy that usually includes remote oversight of pharmacy technicians, remote verification of medication orders or prescriptions, or use of technology for drug dispensing vs drug therapy management via telepharmacy that involves direct engagement with patients and use of their medications which would be relevant for the telemedicine bill regulations. 


SB 418 (Reintroduced as SB 456) : Pharmacy Technician and Pharmacy Trainee Requirements (Pharm Tech Registration)

Primary Sponsor: Senator Rafferty (Berks, Chester, Montgomery – part of each). 

Referred to Committee for Consumer Protection and professional Licensure on 2/27/2017, PSHP representatives were there for the hearing.  But the legislation died in this committee.

  • Targeting the growing problem of prescription drug diversion.
  • Requires pharmacy technicians:
    • To register biennial with the State Board of Pharmacy 
    • Submit a criminal history background check. 
    • Complete a board-approved training program for pharmacy technicians 
    • Be at least 17 years of age. 
  • Grandfathers in current pharmacy technicians exempting them for the new requirements

PSHP Would want to encourage both Rafferty (Senator and Daley to better align their bills so there are not separate versions.


HB 1987 Restrictions on Fentanyl Prescribing and Care Settings

Primary Sponsor: Rep. Bryan Barbin (Cambria and Somerset Counties)

For complete bill information: here.

PSHP worked with HAP, PA Medical Society, the Emergency Medicine Group and directly with the Primary sponsor to amend this bills.  It still appears that if would have resulted in a documentation burden for the justification of use.

PSHP legislative group is happy it did not more forward this legislative session.


SB655 Opioid Advisory Committee 

Primary Sponsor Senator Yaw (Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna (part) and Union Counties). 
Referred to Senate Health and Human Services in May 2017; Re-referred to the Appropriations Committee September 2017.

Passed Senate and referred to the House Health Committee in June 2018, where is remained until session ended.
An Act amending the act of April 14, 1972 (P.L.233, No.64), known as The Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act, further providing for definitions, providing for Pennsylvania Safe Effective Opioid Prescribing Advisory Council and further providing for promulgation of regulations.
PSHP was successful in working directly with Senator Yaw to amending the bill to add one health system and one community pharmacist.

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