Dispensing Overview

Physician dispensing refers to the fulfillment of a prescription, at the point of care, to a patient, either by the prescribing physician or another employee at the practice, for the patient to take home (as opposed to administering in the office). Physician dispensing saves time and money for patients, improves satisfaction and medication compliance, and can be an additional revenue source for healthcare providers.

In most states in the U.S., physicians have the right under their medical license to diagnose, prescribe, and dispense legend drugs, but the guidelines vary state-to-state regarding which practitioners are permitted to, and under what circumstances, provide medications to patients. For more information on state dispensing regulations, please see our Dispensing Regulations page.

PharmaLink’s web-based dispensing software makes the process quick and easy, requiring no additional staff. The dispensing process requires only a few steps:

  • Select the patient from your patient list, or enter last name, first name and date of birth if new patient
  • Select the medication to be dispensed
  • Scan the barcode on the medication bottle using the scanner provided by PharmaLink
    • System will verify against real-time inventory to ensure correct item was selected and the medication is not expired
    • If dispensing a controlled substance, the system will verify that all required patient data has been entered and prompt for missing information
    • Once submitted, the system will automatically print a patient-specific label, patient receipt, and patient information sheet
  • Apply label to bottle, collect payment from patient, and provide medication, receipt (if desired) and information sheet to patient

That’s it! Once familiar with the system, dispensing typically requires no more than 30-45 seconds per dispense, meaning you do not need additional staff to operate your program. PharmaLink provides a scanner and label printer, so all you need is a computer with an internet connection and your local black and white printer.

For a free live demo, or if you have any questions, please complete the Contact Form and a PharmaLink representative will be in touch with you shortly!

Provider Benefits

Dispensing your most commonly prescribed medications to your patients at the point of care has a number of benefits for your practice:

  • Increased income:  Generate a new source of profit and cash flow to help offset declining reimbursements and rising costs of managing a practice.

  • Increased productivity and time savings:  Reduced pharmacy phone calls and fax requests.  Dispensing medications can actually save your staff time, helping your practice to focus more on patient care and their experience with your practice.

  • Reduced liability:  The physician is the best advocate for the patient and has the complete facts.  Directly dispensing your prescriptions ensures the patient gets the exact medication you prescribed.     

  • Improved patient outcomes:  Increasingly, physicians are being evaluating on patient outcomes.  Directly dispensing your prescriptions can increase patient compliance.

  • Compete with “mini clinics”:  Retail pharmacies continue to compete with primary care physicians.  By adding PharmaLink’s medication dispensing solution, primary care physicians begin to level the playing field and compete with retail pharmacy mini clinics.

  • Full service practice image: Give your patients the choices and options that they want, to fill their prescriptions where they choose to.  Including at your practice.

Adding PharmaLink’s medication dispensing system to your current services is a sure way of increasing cash flow to your practice. The system is easy to set up and we will be there to assist you every step of the way.

Patient Benefits

Dispensing medications to your patients provides benefits to your patients in four primary categories: Convenience, Cost, Compliance, and Confidentiality.

  • Convenience:  Save a trip to the pharmacy.  Pharmacy wait times can be hours.  Patients value the time savings of filling prescriptions at their doctor’s office.

  • Cost:  Regardless of the dispensing service you choose: Cash, Insurance Adjudication, or Workers’ Comp, PharmaLink gives your patients very cost effective options.

  • Compliance:  Various studies cite between 20% to 30% of prescriptions are never filled by patients.

  • Confidentiality:  Our clients report a high utilization of their in-office dispensing option especially when the condition being treated might be sensitive to the patient.  Patients appreciate the option to fill prescriptions in the privacy of their doctor’s office.

Adding PharmaLink’s medication dispensing system to your current services is a sure way of increasing the value that you provide to your patients. The system is easy to set up and we will be there to assist you every step of the way. Ready to get started? Contact us today to request more information and to get your business started on the road to increased patient care and profitability.

Dispensing Regulations

Physician dispensing is regulated on the state level, with widely varying rules. The American Medical Association’s official policy states that physicians have a “right to dispense drugs and devices when it is in the best interest of the patient and consistent with AMA’s ethical guidelines” (Motion of the Board, February 1988; Reaffirmed, BOD-1, AM 2014). Most states have opted to follow the AMA guidelines and allow physician dispensing within certain guidelines. Many states allow physicians to dispense under their state medical license, others require a permit for controlled substance dispenses, and some require a permit for dispensing any legend drugs.

We have compiled some information on state physician dispensing regulations at the links below. This information is provided for reference only. You should consult an attorney or your state medical or pharmacy board to verify your eligibility to dispense and ensure compliance with state and federal regulations.

Click your state for more detailed information


PharmaLink offers a turnkey physician dispensing solution, making it quick and easy to set up your own in-office pharmacy. We provide the medications, equipment, and software needed to dispense; all you provide is an internet-connected computer and black and white printer. Our knowledgeable staff will help you every step of the way to ensure your program is successful. You can learn more about our Cash and Carry Dispensing, Workers Compensation Dispensing, and Insurance Billing Dispensing solutions at the links provided.

If you have specific questions about dispensing regulations or our services, or if you’re ready to get started, you can contact us and a PharmaLink representative will reach out to you shortly.

Medication Storage Requirements

The DEA provides minimum requirements for storage of controlled substances to prevent diversion or theft of controlled substances, and these guidelines are generally seen as best practice for all medications. Controlled substances must be stored in a securely locked cabinet of “substantial construction”. The DEA provides more details on what they mean by “substantial construction” on their website:

Even though the Federal regulations do not specifically define locked cabinet construction, the intent of the law is that controlled substances must be adequately safeguarded. Therefore, depending on other security measures, a wooden cabinet may or may not be considered adequate. In an area with a high crime rate, a strong metal cabinet or safe may be required.

Some of the factors considered when evaluating a practitioner’s controlled substances security include:

  1. The number of employees, customers and/or patients who have access to the controlled substances.
  2. The location of the registrant (high or low crime area).
  3. Use of an effective alarm system.
  4. Quantity of controlled substances to be kept on hand.
  5. Prior history of theft or diversion.

Please consult the DEA website for more information. It is also recommended that you consult your state and local requirements as they may differ from the federal regulations.

If you have any specific questions about medication storage or PharmaLink’s services, or if you’re ready to get started please contact us and a representative will be in touch with you shortly.

Medication Labeling Requirements

Prescription medication labeling requirements are established by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and in some cases supplemented by state regulations. In general, most prescription drugs dispensed to patients must include the following information:

  • Common name of the drug and strength

  • Quantity of contents

  • Patient name

  • Date of issue

  • Instructions for use

  • Drug expiration date

  • Name of prescriber

  • Address and phone number of prescriber

  • Manufacturer and/or repackager identification

Some states may also have additional requirements or restrictions, such as font size (California for example requires certain pieces of information to be in a larger font). PharmaLink’s system helps you comply with labeling requirements; however, we do recommend checking with your respective state medical and pharmacy board to ensure all requirements are being met.

If you have any specific questions about medication labeling or PharmaLink’s services, or if you’re ready to get started please contact us and a representative will get back to you shortly.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Reporting Requirements

As of September 2017, every state has established its own Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) to prevent overprescribing of controlled medications, particularly opioid pain medications, and diversion of controlled substances. All dispensers of DEA- or state-designated controlled substances, including practitioners who dispense controlled substances, MUST report those dispenses to their state’s prescription drug monitoring program so that other prescribers and dispensers may access the information.

Historically reporting to PDMP systems was a manual process, but today PharmaLink’s system makes it quick and easy for you! PharmaLink’s web-based software automatically prompts for all required information and submits PDMP reports in all states where we currently operate. PharmaLink’s software also submits “Zero-Fill” reports on behalf of accounts, which are required in many states when no reportable dispenses occur.

For more information about your state’s PDMP requirements or whether PharmaLink offers reporting in your state, please contact us and a representative will get back to you shortly!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is physician dispensing legal?2017-11-20T21:09:27+00:00

Yes! Physician dispensing is regulated at the state level and is allowed in all but a few states, with certain restrictions or limitations in others. Please reference our Dispensing Regulations page for more information.

Why don’t more doctors dispense?2017-11-21T19:47:05+00:00

Historically physician dispensing was a manual process and required extra staff to count pills, maintain records, and report dispenses to state PDMP systems. Today, PharmaLink’s turnkey solution with pre-packaged medications, quick and easy dispensing, automated label printing, and automated PDMP reporting makes the process much easier and requires no additional staff. Many physicians are wary of how much risk and work is involved. If you share these concerns, contact us today and we’d be happy to provide a free consultation and software demo.

I’m a physician and want to dispense at my practice, how do I get started?2017-11-20T21:11:16+00:00

Getting started is very easy with PharmaLink! Contact us for a copy of our brief application. Once we receive the completed paperwork and necessary licensing (varies by state), we can have your program up and running in as little as 3 business days.

How much does it cost to get started?2017-11-20T21:12:20+00:00

In most cases nothing! Depending on your state and the program you choose, we will provide all of the equipment and software you need to get started, and we’ll even finance your inventory for you. What this means is you are immediately profitable and cash flow positive. For a risk-free consultation, or if you’re ready to get started, contact us and a representative will reach out to you to provide more information.

Do I need to provide any equipment to get started?2017-11-20T21:13:09+00:00

To take full advantage of the PharmaLink program you only need to provide a computer with internet connection and a black and white printer. Use of PharmaLink’s dispensing software is not required, however, so it is possible to get started without any equipment. Contact us if you’d like to learn more.

Which medications do you carry?2017-11-21T19:48:08+00:00

We carry a full catalog of approximately 2,500 generic and branded medications in prepackaged, factory-sealed, ready-to-dispense packages. We carry a variety of strengths and quantities for most common medications. For more information, refer to our Formulary section or contact us.

Does your software report to state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP)?2017-11-20T21:15:24+00:00

Yes! Our software automatically files PDMP reports in all of the states where we have customers dispensing controlled medications, as required in each state. Our software will also file “Zero-Fill” reports to the extent no controlled dispenses are completed where required by the state. For more information check out our PDMP Reporting page.

I’d like to request a demo, how do I get in touch with you?2017-11-20T21:16:11+00:00

Fill out our Contact Form and a representative will be in touch shortly!

Can I bill my patients’ insurance through you?2017-11-20T21:17:21+00:00

Yes, PharmaLink does offer an insurance adjudication option. For more information, please view our Insurance Billing page or contact us.

Can I bill workers’ compensation insurance through you?2017-11-20T21:18:16+00:00

Yes, PharmaLink has a workers’ compensation billing program. For more information, please view our Workers’ Compensation page or contact us.

How long does it take to get started?2017-11-21T19:49:29+00:00

Once we receive a completed application packet, including the required license or licenses, we can have your account set up in as little as 3 business days. For more information, or if you’re ready to get started, please contact us!

What do I need to do to get started?2017-11-21T19:50:59+00:00

Contact us for a risk-free consultation! If you’re ready to get started we’ll be happy to provide the paperwork required and guide you on your state’s regulations.

I’m starting a new practice and want to dispense, when should I contact you?2017-11-20T21:20:09+00:00

We recommend starting the process 2-3 months prior to opening, which gives you time to address any state licensing requirements and still have time to complete the application process. Feel free to contact us if you have any specific questions.

Is physician dispensing allowed in my state?2017-11-20T21:21:03+00:00

Check out our state dispensing regulations page for information about your state. Contact us if you need help determining the requirements.

I’m a mid-level provider (Nurse Practitioner or Physician Assistant), am I allowed to dispense?2017-11-20T21:23:10+00:00

Mid-level dispensing is allowed in many states but rights and responsibilities vary from state to state. Review our state dispensing regulations page, and if you aren’t sure, feel free to contact us for a risk-free consultation.

Does the physician have to physically hand the medication to the patient or can the staff complete the dispensing process?2017-11-20T21:23:35+00:00

The rights and responsibilities of dispensers vary from state-to-state. We recommend reviewing your state’s dispensing regulations or contacting your state Pharmacy or Medical Board for more information.

Does dispensing require additional staff?2017-11-20T21:23:54+00:00

No! With PharmaLink’s turnkey physician dispensing solution, dispensing a medication takes no more than 15-30 seconds and requires no additional staff.

What are the benefits of dispensing?2017-11-20T21:25:03+00:00

Please visit our Provider Benefits and Patient Benefits pages for more information.

Get In Touch

PharmaLink would love to hear from you! Please send us a message and one of our team members will get back with you as soon as possible.
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