Texas Doctors Sue State To Dispense Medication Without Using A Pharmacy

Chris Fox
June 28, 2019 - 6:24 am
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AUSTIN (1080 KRLD) - In virtually every state, when you get sick and visit your doctor, you can obtain prescribed medication right there in the doctor’s office—a practice known as “doctor dispensing.” Not in Texas. The Lone Star State bans most doctors from dispensing medication.

Dr. Michael Garrett and Dr. Kristin Held want to use doctor dispensing to improve care and save patients money. Thursday they partnered with the Institute for Justice to file a lawsuit in Travis County District Court challenging Texas’s ban on doctor dispensing.

This ban isn’t about patient safety; it is about protecting the profits of pharmacies. Texas doctors are banned from dispensing prescription medication unless they work in certain “rural” areas more than 15 miles from a pharmacy. And the law works as intended: Only eight of Texas’s almost 65,000 doctors are eligible to dispense medication, guaranteeing that pharmacies see a healthy stream of people needing medications.

“As a family physician, I’m the first person you call when someone gets sick or hurt,” said Dr. Garrett. “It’s my job to figure out what’s wrong with a patient and prescribe the right medication and treatment. Texas’s dispensing ban just makes it harder for me to do my job.”

Texas’s ban on doctor dispensing is the exception nationally, not the rule.

In 45 states and the District of Columbia, doctor dispensing is legal and most doctors report doing it. Because they work in Texas, however, Dr. Garrett and Dr. Held could be fined and even lose their medical licenses for attempting to dispense medications to their patients, solely because there are pharmacies near their offices.

The case was filed in Travis County Civil District Court against the Texas State Board of Pharmacy and the Texas Medical Board, and their members and executive directors.