CONTACT: Press Inquiries
(480) 551-2713
DATE: September 9, 2002

Scottsdale, Ariz. -- New laws giving physician assistants greater medication prescribing and dispensing authorities went into effect last month. These new laws provide physician assistants meeting requirements for expanded prescribing and dispensing and receiving delegation from supervising physicians to prescribe schedule II and III controlled substances for up to 14 days - a significant increase from the previous 72-hour prescription law. Physician assistants may also prescribe schedule IV and V controlled substances from a period of 34 days to a maximum of five refills in a sixmonth period for each patient without the consent of the supervising physician.

“The expanded physician assistant prescribing privileges reflect the changing face of healthcare,” said Executive Director Barry A. Cassidy, Ph.D., P.A.-C. “In an age of managed care and budget cuts, physician assistants are increasingly relied upon to perform many essential healthcare tasks.”

There are several requirements physician assistants must fulfill prior to increasing their prescribing and dispensing practices. Physician assistants must certify to the Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants they have completed 45 hours of pharmacology; have completed 45 hours of clinical management of drug therapy; or are currently certified by the National Commission on the Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA). The Board must also receive written delegation from the supervising physician for prescribing and dispensing authorities. Only physicians who are registered with the Arizona Medical Board to dispense may delegate dispensing privileges.

Additionally, the law requires supervising physicians, delegating prescribing authorities, to submit a system, for Board approval, detailing the prescribed schedule II and III controlled substances recording and review method. “This system, whether maintained manually or electronically, should be designed by the physician assistant and supervising physician to best meet their review needs,” said Cassidy. Although not required by law, the Board recommends supervising physicians review the prescribed medication list at least once every 90 days.

The Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants now provides with each physician assistant profile on its website, a listing of the supervising physician assistant and the physician assistant’s prescribing authority. “The Board chose to include this information on the website as a service to the public and to pharmacies filling prescriptions written by physician assistants,” said Cassidy. To obtain a physician assistant profile and delegated prescribing authorities, click on or call the Board at (480) 551-2700. The Arizona Regulatory Board of Physician Assistants is responsible for licensing and disciplining over 800 physician assistants.