Controlled Substance Database

Section 20-2-210. Legislative findings.

The Alabama Legislature hereby finds that the diversion, abuse, and misuse of prescription medications classified as controlled substances under the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act constitutes a serious threat to the health and welfare of the citizens of the State of Alabama. The Legislature further finds that establishment of a controlled substances prescription database to monitor the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances will materially assist state regulators and practitioners authorized to prescribe and dispense controlled substances in the prevention of diversion, abuse, and misuse of controlled substances prescription medication through the provision of education and information, early intervention, and prevention of diversion, and investigation and enforcement of existing laws governing the use of controlled substances.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §1.)

Section 20-2-211. Definitions.

For the purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the respective meanings ascribed by this section:

(1) CERTIFYING BOARDS. Those boards designated in subdivision (3) of Section 20-2-2.
(2) CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE. Any drug or medication defined as a controlled substance within the meaning of subdivision (4) of Section 20-2-2.
(3) DEPARTMENT. The Alabama Department of Public Health.
(4) LICENSING BOARD OR COMMISSION. The board, commission, or other entity that is authorized to issue a professional license to a pharmacist or an authorized practitioner.
(5) PHARMACY. A retail establishment, as defined in subdivision (18) of Section 34-23-1, licensed by the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy.
(6) PRACTITIONER or AUTHORIZED PRACTITIONER. A medical, dental, podiatric, optometric, or veterinary medical practitioner licensed to practice in this state and authorized to prescribe, dispense, or furnish controlled substances under the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
(7) STATE HEALTH OFFICER. The executive officer of the Alabama Department of Public Health as designated in Section 22-2-8.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §2.)

Section 20-2-212. Controlled substances prescription database program; powers and duties of department; trust fund.

The department is hereby authorized to establish, create, and maintain a controlled substances prescription database program. In order to carry out its responsibilities under this article, the department is hereby granted the following powers and authority:

(1) To adopt regulations, in accordance with the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act, governing the establishment and operation of a controlled substances prescription database program.
(2) To receive and to expend for the purposes stated in this article funds in the form of grants, donations, federal matching funds, interagency transfers, and appropriated funds designated for the development, implementation, operation, and maintenance of the controlled substances prescription database. The funds received pursuant to this subdivision shall be deposited in a new fund that is hereby established as a separate special revolving trust fund in the State Treasury to be known as the Alabama State Controlled Substance Database Trust Fund. No monies shall be withdrawn or expended from the fund for any purpose unless the monies have been appropriated by the Legislature and allocated pursuant to this article. Any monies appropriated shall be budgeted and allocated pursuant to the Budget Management Act in accordance with Article 4 (commencing with Section 41-4-80) of Chapter 4 of Title 41, and only in the amounts provided by the Legislature in the general appropriations act or other appropriations act.
(3) To enter into one or more contracts with the State Board of Pharmacy for the performance of designated operational functions for the controlled substances prescription database, including, but not limited to, the receipt, collection, input, and transmission of controlled substances prescription data and such other operational functions as the department may elect.
(4) To create a controlled substances prescription database advisory committee. The mission of the advisory committee is to consult with and advise the State Health Officer on matters related to the establishment, maintenance, and operation of the database, access to the database information, how access is to be regulated, and security of information contained in the database. The committee shall consist of one representative designated by each of the following organizations:
a. The Medical Association of the State of Alabama.
b. The Alabama Dental Association.
c. The Alabama Pharmacy Association.
d. The Alabama Veterinary Medicine Association.
e. The State Health Officer, or his or her designee.
f. The Alabama Hospital Association.
g. The Executive Director of the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy.
h. The Executive Director of the Board of Medical Examiners.
i. The Alabama Optometric Association.
j. One representative from each of the certifying boards established under the Alabama Uniform Controlled Substances Act.
k. The Alabama Independent Drug Store Association.
l. The Alabama Podiatry Association.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §3.)

Section 20-2-213. Reporting requirements.

(a) Each of the entities designated in subsection (b) shall report to the department, or to an entity designated by the department, controlled substances prescription information as designated by regulation pertaining to all Class II, Class III, Class IV, and Class V controlled substances in such manner as may be prescribed by the department by regulation.

(b) The following entities or practitioners are subject to the reporting requirements of subsection (a):

(1) Licensed pharmacies, not including pharmacies of general and specialized hospitals, nursing homes, and any other healthcare facilities which provide inpatient care, so long as the controlled substance is administered and used by a patient on the premises of the facility.
(2) Mail order pharmacies or pharmacy benefit programs filling prescriptions for or dispensing controlled substances to residents of this state.
(3) Licensed physicians, dentists, podiatrists, optometrists, or veterinarians who dispense Class II, Class III, Class IV, and Class V controlled substances directly to patients, or in the case of veterinarians, for administration to animals, but excluding sample medications. For the purposes of this article, sample medications are defined as those drugs labeled as a sample, not for resale under the laws and regulations of the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Controlled substances administered to patients by injection, topical application, suppository administration, or oral administration during the course of treatment are excluded from the reporting requirement.

(c) The manner of reporting controlled substance prescription information shall be in such manner and format as designated in the regulations of the department.

(d) The following data elements shall be used in transmitting controlled substance prescription information:

(1) Name or other identifying designation of the prescribing practitioner.
(2) Date prescription was filled or medications dispensed.
(3) Name of person and full address for whom the prescription was written or to whom the medications were dispensed.
(4) National Drug Code (NDC) of controlled substance dispensed.
(5) Quantity of controlled substance dispensed.
(6) Name or other identifying designation of dispensing pharmacy or practitioner.
(7) Other data elements consistent with standards established by the American Society for Automation in Pharmacy as may be designated by regulations adopted by the department.

(e) In addition to any other applicable law or regulation, the failure of a licensed pharmacy or pharmacist or a licensed practitioner to comply with the requirements of this section shall constitute grounds for disciplinary action against the license of the pharmacy, pharmacist, or licensed practitioner by the appropriate licensing board or commission, and the imposition of such penalties as the licensing board or commission may prescribe. The department shall report to the appropriate licensing board, agency, or commission the failure of a licensed pharmacist or a licensed practitioner to comply with the reporting requirements of this section. Any report made by the department to a licensing board, agency, or commission shall be deemed a formal complaint and shall be investigated and appropriate action taken thereon.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §4.)

Section 20-2-214. Limited access to database permitted for certain persons or entities.

The following persons or entities shall be permitted access to the information in the controlled substances database, subject to the limitations indicated below:

(1) Authorized representatives of the certifying boards, provided, however, that access shall be limited to inquiries concerning the licensees of the certifying board.
(2) A licensed practitioner approved by the department who has authority to prescribe, dispense, or administer controlled substances, provided, however, that such access shall be limited to information concerning a current or prospective patient of the practitioner. Practitioners shall have no requirement or obligation to access or check the information in the controlled substances database prior to prescribing, dispensing, or administering medications or as part of their professional practice.
(3) A licensed pharmacist approved by the department, provided, however, that such access is limited to information related to the patient or prescribing practitioner designated on a controlled substance prescription that a pharmacist has been asked to fill. Pharmacists shall have no requirement or obligation to access or check the information in the controlled substances database prior to dispensing or administering medications or as part of their professional practices.
(4) State and local law enforcement authorities as authorized under Section 20-2-91, and federal law enforcement authorities authorized to access prescription information upon application to the department accompanied by an affidavit stating probable cause for the use of the requested information.
(5) Employees of the department and consultants engaged by the department for operational and review purposes.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §5.)Section 20-2-215. Confidentiality of database.

(a) The controlled substances database and all information contained therein and any records maintained by the department or by any entity contracting with the department which is submitted to, maintained, or stored as a part of the controlled substances prescription database is hereby declared privileged and confidential, is not a public record, is not subject to subpoena or discovery in civil proceedings and may only be used for investigatory or evidentiary purposes related to violations of state or federal law and regulatory activities of licensing or regulatory boards of practitioners authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances.
(b) Nothing in this section shall apply to records created or maintained in the regular course of business of a pharmacy, medical, dental, optometric, or veterinary practitioner, or other entity covered by this article and all information, documents, or records otherwise available from original sources are not to be construed as immune from discovery or use in any civil proceedings merely because such information contained in those records was reported to the controlled substances prescription database in accordance with the provisions of this article.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §6.)

Section 20-2-216. Unauthorized disclosure of information; unauthorized access, alteration, or destruction of information.

Any person who intentionally makes an unauthorized disclosure of information contained in the controlled substances prescription database shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor. Any person or entity who intentionally obtains unauthorized access to or who alters or destroys information contained in the controlled substances prescription database shall be guilty of a Class C felony.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §7.)

Section 20-2-217. Surcharge on controlled substance registration certificate for maintenance, etc., of database.

There is hereby assessed a surcharge in the amount of ten dollars ($10) per year on the controlled substance registration certificate of each licensed medical, dental, podiatric, optometric, and veterinary medicine practitioner authorized to prescribe or dispense controlled substances. This surcharge shall be effective for every certificate issued or renewed on or after August 1, 2004, shall be in addition to any other fees collected by the certifying boards, and shall be collected by each of the certifying boards and remitted to the department at such times and in such manner as designated in the regulations of the department. The proceeds of the surcharge assessed herein shall be used exclusively for the development, implementation, operation, and maintenance of the controlled substances prescription database.

At the end of the first fiscal year after the controlled substances database becomes operational, and at the end of each succeeding fiscal year thereafter, the State Health Officer shall determine the actual operating costs for the database, to include an allocation of costs for the services of employees of the department. If at the end of the fiscal year the State Health Officer determines that the funds received by the department for operation of the database exceed the operational costs incurred by at least twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000), then the department shall refund a portion of such excess to the certifying boards which made payments to the department under this section in an amount proportional to the boards' payment, provided, however, that no payment of less that five thousand dollars ($5,000) to a certifying board shall be made.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §8.)

Section 20-2-218. Reimbursement of certain costs incurred in compliance with article.

The department is authorized to grant funds to participating pharmacies for the purpose of reimbursing reasonable costs for dedicated equipment and software incurred by pharmacies in complying with the reporting requirements of this article. Such grants shall be funded by gifts, grants, donations, or other funds appropriated for the operation of the controlled substances prescription database. The department is authorized to determine standards and specifications for any equipment and software purchased by the authority of this section.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §9.)

Section 20-2-219. Financing of development, operation, etc., of database.

The controlled substances prescription database shall become operational within 12 months after the State Health Officer certifies to the certifying boards in writing that the department has sufficient funds to finance the development, implementation, and operation of the database.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §10.)

Section 20-2-220. Liability for reporting.

Any person or entity required to report information concerning controlled substance prescriptions to the department, or to its designated agent, pursuant to the requirements of this article shall not be liable to any person for any claim of damages as a result of the act of reporting the information and no lawsuit may be predicated thereon.

(Act 2004-443, p. 781, §11.)