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Published: Thursday, 12/30/2010

Ohio limits prescription transfers to once a year

COLUMBUS -- A change in Ohio rules will limit the number of times a prescription may be transferred between pharmacies to once a year, beginning Saturday.

The Ohio State Board of Pharmacy approved the restriction last month because of pharmacists' concerns about paperwork and possible communication glitches that can endanger patients, said Tim Benedict, the board's assistant director.

"If you keep transferring [prescriptions] around, you're eventually going to have problems," he said.

Several retailers offer deals, such as gift cards and percentage-off coupons, for prescription transfers. Pharmacists have complained that they spend too much time dealing with transfers that are often initiated solely because of bargain offers, Mr. Benedict said.

"There's a difference between penny-pinching and coupon-shopping to the point it becomes unsafe," said Bill Winsley, the executive director of the pharmacy board.

Prescription transfers within the same retail chain, such as from a CVS store in Ohio to one in Florida, are exempt from the one-per-year limit because the stores share the same system of computer records, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The rule change could cause hardships for Ohio snowbirds, older residents who go elsewhere for the winter, critics charge.

They could transfer a prescription from Ohio to their winter home state. But unless the switch is made within one pharmacy chain, they would not be able to make the transfer back to Ohio when they return with warmer weather.

Patients can avoid that problem through planning and by having a doctor write two separate prescriptions, Mr. Benedict said.

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