Both the State and Federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for overseeing and managing drug disbursement in the country. They create laws to regulate the distribution and dispensing of all kinds of medications, whether they be over-the-counter, prescription, or controlled substances.
Traditionally, they only allowed pharmacies and pharmacists to distribute and dispense medications to ensure the safety of consumers. But as the healthcare system becomes more complex, certain amendments have been made to create more lenient yet still regulated forms of medication distribution and dispensing.
Read on below to learn more about the difference between medication distribution and medication dispensing. We will also tackle how the physician or in-office dispensing is a new and efficient way of providing medications to patients while also improving how the healthcare system works.
What is medication distribution?
In the medical field, medication distribution refers to the act of providing or delivering a drug or medication, commonly in the form of samples. Medication distribution only takes place when a specific drug or medication is “distributed” to a physician, nurse staff, or agent. The receiving party can then “dispense” it to a patient or into the community, preferably as medication samples.
It is common for physician offices or dental clinics to accept medication samples from pharmaceutical companies to be distributed to their patients. This kind of practice is both convenient and beneficial to all parties involved, and here’s how:
- It is a convenient and cost-efficient way for drug companies to market their new product, subsequently helping to keep prices down.
- Patients can get free medications on the spot, saving them from costly prescription drugs and transportation expenses. Plus, patients get to try an upcoming drug that may be effective for their condition, thus improving patient compliance and prognosis.
- Doctors get to build goodwill and a good relationship with their patients by providing free samples.
However, medication distribution should be handled very carefully, and offices that plan to do this must follow state and federal pharmacy regulations. For example, they must abide by and comply with the rules that come with accepting the samples, their storage and documentation, personnel access, and dispensing.
All practices must have a formal system in place for distributing sample medications to protect patients from potential risks. This includes medication misuse, improper instructions, or wrong drug dispensing.
What is medication dispensing?
On the other hand, medication dispensing refers to the act of preparing, packaging, and labeling a drug or device for delivery to an ultimate user, which is the patient. Dispensing is the process of providing medications directly to a patient on the basis of a prescription.
Only pharmacists, physicians, and other medical practitioners with prescribing authority can perform medication dispensing.
In states where physician dispensing is allowed, patients have the choice to continue filling their prescriptions at their local pharmacy or conveniently get it from their doctor right after their appointment. This practice is also known as in-office dispensing or in-house dispensing.
Of course, physicians who perform physician dispensing must still comply with specific laws governing medication dispensing. This includes the following:
- Evaluating a medication for pharmaceutical and therapeutic suitability.
- Reviewing the medical history and considering potential medication interactions or contraindications.
- Providing accurate medication information and administration to the patient.
- Ensuring proper use, labeling, and dispensing technique.
- Observing proper documentation of the dispensed medication.
What are their differences?
Medication distribution and medication dispensing may seem like two processes that are the same. However, they are different from each other and have stark differences in every aspect, such as the following:
|Medication distribution||Medication dispensing|
|There is no specific patient order or prescription required to distribute medication samples. However, the distributing organization (pharmaceutical company) does need a permit or distribution standing order.||Dispensing must only be performed when there’s an individual patient prescription present.|
|Medication distribution may be performed by the pharmaceutical company or their agent, a licensed physician, or a properly trained personnel acting under the physician’s direct order and supervision.||It should only be performed by a licensed pharmacist, physician, nurse, or other healthcare professional with authority to prescribe.|
|Most medications distributed are free and involve no payment.||Prescription drugs involve payment that may be covered under the patient’s insurance or insurance co-pay.|
What are the benefits of physician dispensing?
Although still relatively new, physician dispensing has a lot of potential to create a more seamless and efficient way to dispense prescription drugs. It also has a plethora of benefits to patients, such as:
- Improves patient compliance and adherence to the treatment plan.
- Better treatment timeline and prognosis.
- A cost-efficient way of filling prescriptions for patients.
- Enhances patient convenience and satisfaction.
Additionally, in-office dispensing also presents a plethora of benefits to physicians, such as a new source of revenue, improvement in patient care, and an increase in clinic efficiency.
First Coast Health Solutions – Providing the Best Physician Dispensing Solutions for your Practice
First Coast Health Solutions offers an efficient way to help you provide a point of care dispensing into your medical practice.
We offer high-quality, FDA-approved prepackaged medication and a simple, intuitive-based dispensing software solution. We will help you to create a new and straightforward revenue source that ensures you are incompliance, so you can focus on the needs of your patients.
The material contained on this site is for informational purposes only and DOES NOT CONSTITUTE THE PROVIDING OF MEDICAL ADVICE, and is not intended to be a substitute for independent professional medical judgment, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your health.