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Pharmacist FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions for Pharmacists on Refills

Q: If a prescription is authorized for several refills, may I dispense more than one refill at a time such as when the patient will be traveling overseas for several months?

A: Board Rule 21NCAC 46.1802 allows for such dispensing under some circumstances. The notable exception is if the prescription is for a controlled substance or psychotherapeutic drug, which does require authorization from the prescriber. This provision is intended to apply to patients who may be suicidal.


Q:  Under what circumstances can a pharmacist continue to dispense refills on a prescription written by a deceased prescriber?

A:  If the prescription still has refills remaining at the time of the prescriber’s death, the pharmacist may continue to dispense those refills as ordered.  The death of the prescriber does not void valid prescriptions or refills ordered prior to the death.  See FAQ on Prescriber's death, retirement, or loss of license.

If the prescription has no refills remaining, Board Rule .1815 authorizes a pharmacist to provide a one-time emergency refill for up to a 90-day supply when the prescriber is “unable to provide medical services.”  A prescriber’s death qualifies. You can find the rule here:

In all circumstances, pharmacists should use their clinical judgment in making refill decisions.


Q: Is a prescription with a specific number of refills good for more than one year?

A: Yes, providing the prescription is not for a controlled substance. A prescription is valid beyond one year if a specific number of refills is authorized and they have not been used. A pharmacist can always decline to fill or refill a prescription as noted in Board Rule. 1801:


Q: Can prescriptions be transferred more than once in North Carolina?

A: Yes, provided that refill authorizations still exist and there are restrictions on controlled substances. Prescriptions for non-controlled drugs can be transferred from one store to another indefinitely providing that refill authorizations do exist.

Federal rules (1306.25(a)) permit multiple transfers of controlled substances, provided that authorization exists, only for those pharmacies that share a real time on-line electronic database. Other pharmacies are limited to one transfer only under federal rules.


Q: Is there a six month/five refill limit on Schedule V drugs?

A: No. Prescriptions for Schedule V drugs can be refilled as authorized.


Q: What grounds are listed in the Board rule on refusing to fill or refill a prescription?

A: Pharmacists can refuse to fill or refill prescriptions if they believe it would be harmful to the patient, or if there's a question as to its validity or they believe it is not in the patient's best interest.


Q: Can I give an emergency refill on a weekend if the patient needs it when there are no refills left on the script?

A: Board Rule .1809 allows a pharmacist to give up to a 30 day supply of any drug except a Schedule II controlled substance under these circumstances. You must contact the prescriber or the prescriber's office within 72 hours to notify them of what you have done.

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