Pharmacy Times, Volume 0, 0

The Florida SupremeCourt hasopened the door fora high-stakes lawsuitthat could lead to theestablishment of trickynew "duty to warn"requirements for pharmacistsin the Sunshine State.

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

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

Among the factors working against the Florida pharmacieswere evidence that one pharmacist provided the patient with a30-day refill on an addictive pain medication only 4 days aftershe received the original 30-day supply.