Will other states follow?
By KENNETH KESNER
Some fled Katrina without obtaining vital medication
State laws have been temporarily changed to allow Alabama pharmacists to fill prescriptions on an emergency basis for people displaced by Hurricane Katrina.
Gov. Bob Riley issued a proclamation that allows pharmacists to give a one-time emergency refill of up to a 30-day supply of medications, according to the Alabama State Board of Pharmacy, which urged the rule change.
Registered pharmacist Frederick Carodine Jr. said that's a very important step for the state to take, as many who fled the hurricane and floodwaters for safety in Alabama depend on daily doses and did not have the time or presence of mind to get those prescriptions filled in advance.
"I thought that was one of the better things I've seen happen," Carodine said. "These people are needing medications they've obviously left behind."
He has a unique perspective on the prescription problem. Before Katrina, Carodine was a pharmacist at a Walgreen in New Orleans, just down the street from Xavier University where he earned his pharmacy degree.
On the morning of Aug. 28, he and his wife Brenda and their two children packed up what they could and came to stay with his parents in Huntsville. Carodine recently saw pictures of his neighborhood in East New Orleans and spotted where he lives, just off Bullard street - "I did live right off Bullard," he corrected himself. He could see the roof above the water, but couldn't see his mailbox.
So, the Lee High and Alabama A&M University graduate is back home in Huntsville for the foreseeable future. His kids are already enrolled in Huntsville schools, and Carodine is hoping he can be hired as a pharmacist at an area Walgreen or other pharmacy. "We're working on it," he said.
Special accommodations are being made for out-of-state pharmacists who want to volunteer their services, or who want to get the credentials and licensing needed to practice in Alabama, said Lynda Staggs, president of the state board and a pharmacist at Medical Arts Pharmacy of Huntsville.
Staggs said her colleagues around the state, and especially at the state line, are seeing many evacuees from Louisiana and Mississippi.
"We're continuing to work daily with the state health department and the governor's office to accommodate our neighbors who have been displaced by the hurricane," she said.
Alabama law already allowed pharmacists to refill certain prescriptions on an emergency basis for 72 hours. But, because of Katrina's devastation, Riley was urged to use his emergency powers and authority to extend the rules to cover all drugs - including "controlled" medications for pain - and to allow for the one-time emergency refill up to a 30-day supply, through the end of September.
Pharmacists are to try and contact the prescribing physician, but can use their professional judgment to evaluate each situation and decide whether to refill the prescription.
Pharmacists who haven't been notified are urged to contact the Alabama Board of Pharmacy for detailed prescriber information.
© 2005 The Huntsville Times