Dispensing medicines to patients in your office

That's what some physicians are doing in Maryland and Virginia.

That's what some physicians are doing in Maryland and Virginia. Although most states outlaw physicians from dispensing medicines in their offices, some now permit "point of care" dispensing as long as you have authorization from the pharmacy board. Not many physicians currently sell prescription medications to their patients-less than 10%-but that figure could rise to 25% in five to 10 years, according to The Washington Post (10/30/2007).

Besides being a convenience for patients, selling prescription medication from your office could increase revenues. Physicians choose how much they will charge for a prescription medication-usually more than a pharmacy-and can keep the revenue since it falls outside the control of managed care. Doctors can also decide whether to accept a patient's co-pay and determine who-the patient or the physicians' office-will be responsible for getting the balance from the insurance company.

Although physicians who want to sell medication generally have the support of the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, pharmacists and patient advocacy groups caution against the practice. These groups warn that patients who bypass the pharmacist could miss out on important medication expertise, and that the system could easily be abused.