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Context: There is currently a nationwide shortage of Adderall, a schedule 2 drug. One of the pieces of advice for patients is to see about getting the drug in a different formulation, as not all versions of Adderall are equally out of stock (Size of pill, extended release vs immediate release, etc.). Not knowing how quick or diligent my medial provider would be, I attempted to do my due diligence in finding out what would be in stock before contacting the prescriber, thus reducing the size of the task I was asking for.

I was told by the pharmacy staff that since this was a schedule II drug, they could not share that information of what they had on stock with a patient. The only way to get that information would be for the provider to either send in an Rx for something that might not be on hand or for the provider to call the pharmacy and talk to them directly.

I've been trying to determine if this is actually a law or just a store policy. I read http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0800-0899/0893/Sections/0893.04.html in detail, the Florida statute governing pharmacy behavior on controlled substances and could not find anything there. I then skimmed the rest of chapter 893 and did not see anything there.

I then did my best to skim the US code 21 USC 13 but could not find anything there either. This pretty much exhausted my "not a lawyer's" ability to research this topic. So...is there something in either state or federal law preventing this communication, or just store policy?

The main reason I want to know is if it is the former, I'd like to put forth a proposal to the appropriate agency that during a declared nationwide shortage of a drug (Which the FDA has done), these communication rules be lowered or waived as not all patients have on the ball providers...and keeping people in frustrating, difficult, out of control places with regards to their psychiatric medication does not seem to be a great idea!

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I don't know of any law, state or federal, that would prohibit the disclosure of these facts.

Such a law would almost certainly be unconstitutional under Va. Pharmacy Bd. v. Va. Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748, (1976). In that case, consumer groups sued to invalidate a Virginia law prohibiting pharmacists from disclosing the prices of their products to the general public. The state argued that "purely commercial" speech did not enjoy First Amendment protection, but the Supreme Court disagreed, holding that unless it is deceptive or misleading, commercial speech enjoys normal First Amendment protections:

Virginia is free to require whatever professional standards it wishes of its pharmacists; it may subsidize them or protect them from competition in other ways. ... But it may not do so by keeping the public in ignorance of the entirely lawful terms that competing pharmacists are offering. In this sense, the justifications Virginia has offered for suppressing the flow of prescription drug price information, far from persuading us that the flow is not protected by the First Amendment, have reinforced our view that it is.

Va. Pharmacy Bd. v. Va. Consumer Council, 425 U.S. 748, 770 (1976).

I'd therefore assume this is just a matter of store policy. From the pharmacy's perspective, advertising its inventory of controlled substances probably makes as much sense as putting up a sign advertising how much money is currently in the cash registers.

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    I absolutely agree under normal circumstances why they would not disclose that information for just that reason. In this case, with a patient who regularly takes the drug who has been stuck on back order actually has a legitimate reason to ask in person. So this tells me I should take up my concerns re exception to the policy to the store and not the government. Thank you.
    – Alan
    Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 15:23
  • But how much do you have available is not a competitive question like what is the price is. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 4:52
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    I don't see how that makes a difference. The point is that content-based speech restrictions are generally impermissible. It doesn't matter whether the content in question is price or quantity.
    – bdb484
    Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 5:44
  • This might be a good reason to develop relationships with your local pharmacists, so when they see you come in, they know that you are a legitimate patient and not a drug seeker or trafficker looking for easy victims. Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 13:11
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    "makes as putting" -- I presume you meant "makes as much sense as putting"? Commented Oct 30, 2022 at 22:53

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