Legislative Council stops Xanax rescheduling

With only one dissenting vote, the Legislative Council reversed an Alabama Department of Public Health decision to move Xanax into one of the most restrictive categories for controlled substances.

Alprazolam and other benzodiazepines will remain a Schedule IV drug in Alabama. Alprazolam is sold under the brand names Xanax and Niravam to treat anxiety and panic disorders.

The Alabama Board of Public Health at the request of the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners voted March 15 to reclassify alprazolam as a Schedule II substance and to move other benzodiazepines, including Ambien, to Schedule III.

Had the rule been allowed to go forward, Alabama would have been the only state in the nation to classify these drugs as Schedule II, creating a recordkeeping and storage nightmare for Alabama pharmacists. Dr. Susan Alverson with the State Board of Pharmacy pointed out that national systems for prescriptions would have had to be rewritten to accommodate Alabama and that most software companies said they would refuse to do it, while others said there would have been a substantial charge to do so. She said pharmacies make about a $2 profit on Xanax and that if pharmacies had to pay for computer and inventory systems to be reworked, they would be filling prescriptions of Xanax at a loss every time they filled them.

The Alabama Retail Association worked with the Board of Pharmacy and the Alabama Pharmacy Association for the legislative review and reversal of the rule change. Alabama Retail thanks its members for reaching out to the council so effectively.

The pharmacy board and association as well as lawmakers on the council chastised doctors and the Public Health board for not seeking input from pharmacists and patient advocates before adopting the rule.


This article is part of the Alabama Retail Report, a communication for Alabama Retail Association members. Not a member? Join us!

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