Wednesday, April 24, 2013


(San Diego) The Assembly Business, Professions and Consumer Protection Committee today approved a bill by Assembly Majority Leader Toni Atkins to increase protections for patients whose medications are switched by pharmacists receiving financial incentives for doing so.  AB 670 restricts payments for these switches, called therapeutic substitutions, to only those made after the pharmacist performs a comprehensive medication review.

“Pharmacists are valued professional members of the healthcare team who often recommend a substitute medication because it is in the best interest of the patient, but additional caution is needed when the pharmacist has a financial incentive to make the switch,” says Atkins.  “AB 670 will ensure that the switch is in the best interest of the patient.”

Current law allows pharmacists to replace a brand-name drug with a generic formulation of the exact same medication.  Pharmacists may also, with physician approval, make a therapeutic substitution, which means that the drug treats the same condition, but is chemically different from the one originally prescribed.  If not done in conjunction with the proper review, the substitute drug can have adverse effects for the patients.

Doctors are not permitted to accept payment to specifically switch their patients’ medications from one drug to another based solely on a financial incentive.  AB 670 places similar restrictions on pharmacists and will ensure that science and patient well-being are the determining factors when choosing a drug and that consumers are protected.

AB 670 is sponsored by the California Medical Association.  It will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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