Massachusetts state board offers prescription option to Compass patients

Pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass., June 15, 2018. (Elise Amendola/AP)
Pharmaceuticals are seen in North Andover, Mass., June 15, 2018. (Elise Amendola/AP)

Pharmacists can provide patients of abruptly-closed Compass Medical practices with up to 30 days worth of certain medications even if they do not have remaining refills on their prescriptions, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Pharmacy said Tuesday.

The southeastern Mass. urgent care and medical clinic group shuttered suddenly last week, leaving tens of thousands of patients in the lurch and in need of alternate care arrangements. Under a policy adopted in April, state pharmacy regulators said, pharmacists are allowed to dispense Schedule VI medications that do not require a report to the state Prescription Monitoring Program without a refill order as a way of giving patients the time to find another prescriber.

The board's notice specified that federally controlled substances and gabapentin cannot be provided.

"When a prescriber-patient relationship has ended because a prescriber has ceased to practice for any reason, established drug therapy may be continued in order to enable the patient time to establish a relationship with another prescriber," the policy states.

The board said that pharmacists should "ensure that patients are aware that no further supplies can be dispensed beyond the 30-days" and that patients who ask for or require extra supplies should be referred to an urgent care facility.

When it announced its immediate closure last week, Compass said in a notice to patients that anyone with an "emergent need for prescription refills" should check with their pharmacy because "in many cases our providers will be ordering prospective prescriptions when appropriate or allowable." Compass also provided a phone number, 508-350-2000, that patients could call for assistance with prescription refills or test results.

The Board of Registration in Pharmacy said Tuesday that any Compass patient who needs an immediate bridge prescription for Buprenorphine, which is used to treat opioid dependence, should call the free MA Addiction Warmline 617-414-4175 for an immediate prescription and referral to ongoing care.



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