Emergency Prescription Refill Bill Signed Into Law

Legislation addressing prescription refills in emergency situations was signed into law by Governor Wolf today as Act 8 of 2018, according to Senator Pat Browne (R-16) and Representative Ryan Mackenzie (R-134) who sponsored companion legislation for this law.

Senate Bill 542 eliminates a life threatening loophole in the state’s emergency prescription refill law. Under current law, in the event of an emergency situation where a patient cannot obtain a doctor’s script for the refill of a prescription, a pharmacist could issue a 72 hour supply of that drug. Issues with the law arose, with drugs that are not available in 72-hour supplies, such as insulin, and therefore could not be dispensed to the patient. This situation has resulted in fatalities in other states.

With the signing of this legislation, pharmacists are now permitted to dispense up to a 30 day emergency supply as long as certain conditions are met, such as the drug is not available in a 72-hour supply, is not a controlled substance and is essential to maintain life.

“Fixing this oversight in the current law has the real potential to save lives in Pennsylvania,” Senator Browne said. “There are a wide range of reasons as to why an individual would need to be able to obtain an emergency refill of their life-sustaining medication. I thank my colleagues in the legislature for passing this legislation that helps ensure patients do not reach a life-threatening situation because they are denied access to an emergency supply of their medication.”

“I am pleased to have this bill approved by the General Assembly and signed into law,” said Mackenzie, author of companion legislation House Bill 1186. “Individuals on life-sustaining medication need to know there is a backup plan in place in case they run out of medication and are not in a position to get a hold of their doctor for a prescription refill. They should not be placed in a panic situation or be forced to go to an emergency room to get the medically necessary medication they need.”

Local advocates brought this issue to Sen. Browne’s and Rep. Mackenzie’s attention, hoping to prevent in Pennsylvania cases like that of Kevin Houdeshell. Houdeshell passed away in 2014 because state law in Ohio would not allow for him to obtain an emergency supply of insulin.

The Act takes effect immediately.


Matt Moyer       (Senator Browne) 717-787-1349, mmoyer@pasen.gov
Tricia Lehman  (Rep. Mackenzie) 717-772-9840, tlehman@pahousegop.com