Bill seeks to exempt providers from Rx act

Saturday, February 28, 2009

LINCOLN, Neb.--A bill that would free oxygen providers from the burden of having to work under the auspices of pharmacists made its way before the state legislature here in January.

The bill, L.B. 604, seeks to exempt HME providers from Nebraska’s Delegated Dispensing Act. Under the act, providers have to contract with pharmacists to oversee oxygen policies, procedures and operations,

“For a lot of independent HMEs, it’s difficult to find a pharmacist to contract with them,” said Ed Erickson, general manager of Great Plains Homecare Equipment in North Platte. “The pharmacist has to be available 24 hours a day for consulting and they aren’t going to do it for free.”

The act has been on the books for several years, and HME providers and the Nebraska Board of Pharmacists have been working together to write more “workable” regulations, said Erickson.

But, trying to meld pharmacy and oxygen regulations has proven nearly impossible, he said. For example, oxygen cylinders need to be labeled like a pill bottle, complete with dosage and number of times taken per day.

“That would put us in violation of FDA regulations,” said Erickson. “We also had to follow pharmacy regulations as far as serializing prescriptions, which HME software won’t do. It was a Catch-22.”