Published Online: Tuesday, August 1, 2006

The Florida Supreme Court has opened the door for a high-stakes lawsuit that could lead to the establishment of tricky new "duty to warn" requirements for pharmacists in the Sunshine State.

At issue in the case was whether 2 Broward County pharmacies should be brought to trial for dispensing prescriptions that allegedly caused a woman to die of a drug overdose in 2002. Lawyers for the plaintiff contend that the 2 pharmacies—Your Druggist and The Medicine Shoppe—should have stopped honoring prescriptions for the woman's addictive pain medication.

The trial judge decided in favor of the pharmacies, ruling that under Florida law "a pharmacist has no duty to warn the customer's treating physician of the customer's dependency and addiction to a prescription drug." The state Supreme Court, however, disagreed, and ordered the case to trial.

Among the factors working against the Florida pharmacies were evidence that one pharmacist provided the patient with a 30-day refill on an addictive pain medication only 4 days after she received the original 30-day supply.

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