90-106. Prescriptions and labeling.

(a) (Effective until January 1, 2020) Except when dispensed directly by a practitioner, other than a pharmacist, to an ultimate user, no controlled substance included in Schedule II of this Article may be dispensed without the written prescription of a practitioner. No Schedule II substance shall be dispensed pursuant to a written prescription more than six months after the date it was prescribed.

(a) (Effective January 1, 2020) No Schedule II substance shall be dispensed pursuant to a written or electronic prescription more than six months after the date it was prescribed.

(a1) (Effective January 1, 2020) Electronic Prescription Required; Exceptions. - Unless otherwise exempted by this subsection, a practitioner shall electronically prescribe all targeted controlled substances. This subsection does not apply to prescriptions for targeted controlled substances issued by any of the following:

(1) A practitioner, other than a pharmacist, who dispenses directly to an ultimate user.

(2) A practitioner who orders a controlled substance to be administered in a hospital, nursing home, hospice facility, outpatient dialysis facility, or residential care facility, as defined in G.S. 14-32.2.

(3) A practitioner who experiences temporary technological or electrical failure or other extenuating circumstance that prevents the prescription from being transmitted electronically; provided, however, that the practitioner documents the reason for this exception in the patient's medical record.

(4) A practitioner who writes a prescription to be dispensed by a pharmacy located on federal property; provided, however, that the practitioner documents the reason for this exception in the patient's medical record.

(5) A person licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to Article 11 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes. A person licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to Article 11 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes may continue to prescribe targeted controlled substances from valid written, oral, or facsimile prescriptions that are otherwise consistent with applicable laws.

(a2) (Effective January 1, 2020) Verification by Dispenser Not Required. - A dispenser is not required to verify that a practitioner properly falls under one of the exceptions specified in subsection (a1) of this section prior to dispensing a targeted controlled substance. A dispenser may continue to dispense targeted controlled substances from valid written, oral, or facsimile prescriptions that are otherwise consistent with applicable laws.

(a3) Limitation on Prescriptions Upon Initial Consultation for Acute Pain. - A practitioner may not prescribe more than a five-day supply of any targeted controlled substance upon the initial consultation and treatment of a patient for acute pain, unless the prescription is for post-operative acute pain relief for use immediately following a surgical procedure. A practitioner shall not prescribe more than a seven-day supply of any targeted controlled substance for post-operative acute pain relief immediately following a surgical procedure. Upon any subsequent consultation for the same pain, the practitioner may issue any appropriate renewal, refill, or new prescription for a targeted controlled substance. This subsection does not apply to prescriptions for controlled substances issued by a practitioner who orders a controlled substance to be wholly administered in a hospital, nursing home licensed under Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, hospice facility, or residential care facility, as defined in G.S. 14-32.2(c1). This subsection does not apply to prescriptions for controlled substances issued by a practitioner who orders a controlled substance to be wholly administered in an emergency facility, veterinary hospital, or animal hospital, as defined in G.S. 90-181.1. A practitioner who acts in accordance with the limitation on prescriptions as set forth in this subsection shall be immune from any civil liability or disciplinary action from the practitioner's occupational licensing agency for acting in accordance with this subsection.

(a4) Definitions. - As used in this subsection, the following terms have the following meanings:

(1) Acute pain. - Pain, whether resulting from disease, accident, intentional trauma, or other cause, that the practitioner reasonably expects to last for three months or less. The term does not include chronic pain or pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice care, palliative care, or medication-assisted treatment for substance use disorder. The term does not include pain being treated as part of cancer care, hospice care, or palliative care provided by a person licensed to practice veterinary medicine pursuant to Article 11 of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes.

(2) Chronic pain. - Pain that typically lasts for longer than three months or that lasts beyond the time of normal tissue healing.

(3) Surgical procedure. - A procedure that is performed for the purpose of structurally altering the human body by incision or destruction of tissues as part of the practice of medicine or a procedure that is performed for the purpose of structurally altering the animal body by incision or destruction of tissues as part of the practice of veterinary medicine. This term includes the diagnostic or therapeutic treatment of conditions or disease processes by use of instruments such as lasers, ultrasound, ionizing, radiation, scalpels, probes, or needles that cause localized alteration or transportation of live human tissue, or live animal tissue in the practice of veterinary medicine, by cutting, burning, vaporizing, freezing, suturing, probing, or manipulating by closed reduction for major dislocations and fractures, or otherwise altering by any mechanical, thermal, light-based, electromagnetic, or chemical means.

(a5) Dispenser Immunity. - A dispenser shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability or disciplinary action from the Board of Pharmacy for dispensing a prescription written by a prescriber in violation of this section.

(b) In emergency situations, as defined by rule of the Commission, Schedule II drugs may be dispensed upon oral prescription of a practitioner, reduced promptly to writing and filed by the dispensing agent. Prescriptions shall be retained in conformity with the requirements of G.S. 90-104. No prescription for a Schedule II substance may be refilled.

(c) Except when dispensed directly by a practitioner, other than a pharmacist, to an ultimate user, no controlled substance included in Schedules III or IV, except paregoric, U.S.P., as provided in G.S. 90-91(e)1, may be dispensed without a prescription, and oral prescriptions shall be promptly reduced to writing and filed with the dispensing agent. Such prescription may not be filled or refilled more than six months after the date thereof or be refilled more than five times after the date of the prescription.

(d) No controlled substance included in Schedule V of this Article or paregoric, U.S.P., may be distributed or dispensed other than for a medical purpose.

(e) No controlled substance included in Schedule VI of this Article may be distributed or dispensed other than for scientific or research purposes by persons registered under, or permitted by, this Article to engage in scientific or research projects.

(f) No controlled substance shall be dispensed or distributed in this State unless such substance shall be in a container clearly labeled in accord with regulations lawfully adopted and published by the federal government or the Commission.

(g) When a copy of a prescription for a controlled substance under this Article is given as required by G.S. 90-70, such copy shall be plainly marked: "Copy - for information only." Copies of prescriptions for controlled substances shall not be filled or refilled.

(h) A pharmacist dispensing a controlled substance under this Article shall enter the date of dispensing on the prescription order pursuant to which such controlled substance was dispensed.

(i) A manufacturer's sales representative may distribute a controlled substance as a complimentary sample only upon the written request of a practitioner. Such request must be made on each distribution and must contain the names and addresses of the supplier and the requester and the name and quantity of the specific controlled substance requested. The manufacturer shall maintain a record of each such request for a period of two years. (1971, c. 919, s. 1; 1973, c. 476, s. 128; c. 1358, s. 15; 1975, c. 572; 1977, c. 667, s. 3; 1981, c. 51, s. 9; 2007-248, s. 2; 2013-379, s. 5; 2017-74, s. 6; 2018-76, ss. 5, 7.)