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Davis Journal

HB301 could save patients a trip to the pharmacy

Mar 01, 2022 10:27AM ● By Becky Ginos

Rep. Ray Ward listens on the floor of the House during the 2022 session. Ward is sponsoring HB301 that would allow doctors to give patients prescription medications during an office visit. Photo by Roger V. Tuttle

BOUNTIFUL—A bill that would allow physicians to dispense prescription medications to patients in their office is making its way through the legislature. 

“Utah is out of line,” said Rep. Ray Ward, R-Bountiful who is sponsoring HB301. “Most states already have it.”

There can be instances when a patient comes in that it would be helpful to give the medication to them right then, he said. “For example they come in with an ear infection. We do an evaluation for their medical condition and give them short-term antibiotics. It is limited to prepackaged, preset and non-addictive medications. We would give them the package together with instructions.”

It would be on a cash pay basis, he said. “The medications would probably be generic so it tends to be cheaper.”

Physicians’ offices could create a stock of medications to have on hand, said Ward. “Even urgent care could have medications where patients can pay $5 or $10 right there and not have to go to the pharmacy. It might be 8:30 at night and it can be a challenge to find a pharmacy that is open. With this, they could walk right out with it.”

The doctor’s office would have to disclose that it is cash pay and that insurance might not cover it, he said. “That way a patient doesn’t walk out and find out the insurance didn’t pay.”

Ward said he can give out samples right now. “I can give medication to a patient and put it in their mouth and have them swallow it. What I can’t do is give them a pack of five pills.”

Take a clinic that serves the homeless community, he said. “A patient comes in with a bad infection on their leg. The doctor gives them a prescription but it’s unreliable that they’ll make it through the cold of night to pick up the medication. Instead, they could give it to them right there.”

There are guardrails in place, said Ward. “We’re just trying to think of ways that we can make it convenient and helpful to patients.”

Each office would have to figure out how to handle it, he said. “Whether it comes in a two pack or prepackaged individual blister pack they might buy it from a wholesaler or even a pharmacy. They could stock the 10 most common short-term medications they use. That costs money but those are some of the ways to get that.”

Concierge medicine offers a small patient panel, Ward said. “They charge about $1,500 a year to be seen in the clinic. They may want to stock some of those medicines to provide premier service to make it seem nicer for patients when they come in.”

It’s working in other states, he said. “I think it will work well here.” The bill has passed in the House and was due to be heard in the Senate committee this week. λ