Senate turns back attack on State Pharmacy Board

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The state Senate voted down Thursday an attempt to strip the State Board of Pharmacy of its authority to regulate the delivery of mail order prescription drugs in Georgia.

Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Buford) and Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) had amended in committee an unrelated House bill (HB 965) to provide that pharmacy benefit managers would not be subject to the Pharmacy Board’s regulations governing mail order deliveries.

That amendment generated strong opposition from Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler), a pharmacist, and Sen. Charlie Bethel (R-Dalton), whose wife is a pharmacist.

When the bill came to the Senate floor for debate, Bethel offered an amendment to remove the language exempting pharmacy benefit managers from the Pharmacy Board regulations.

Bethel’s amendment passed by a 38-14 vote after some heated floor debate. The Senate then voted 50-3 to pass the underlying HB 965, which deals with emergency room treatment of drug overdose cases.

Sen. Don Balfour (R-Snellville), who supported Shafer’s original amendment, accused the Pharmacy Board of acting outside its authority when it developed rules regulating mail order deliveries.

“Once we’ve set laws, the pharmacy board can’t go beyond them,” Balfour said. “The state of Georgia has decided that mail order is legal . . . The pharmacy board is deciding that they’re going to set the law.”

“The pharmacy board, they went over to their sand box . . . and they’ve become judges making laws instead of judges interpreting laws,” Unterman said. “We had to put this in here to say, no, we made this law, we’re sticking to this law.”

Carter, however, said the Pharmacy Board was merely promulgating rules to enforce the laws passed by the General Assembly.

Without the board’s regulation of mail order delivery firms, they would be able to leave narcotics and other dangerous drugs on doorsteps without being required to have someone sign for those deliveries, Carter said.

© 2014 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: Buddy Carter , Charlie Bethel , David Shafer , Don Balfour , mail order prescriptions , pharmacies , Renee Unterman , State Board of Pharmacy