Effective January 1, 2019, Health & Safety Code Sections 11161.5, 11162.1, and 11165 were amended to, among other things, provide that the Department of Justice implement a system by which prescription forms for controlled substance prescriptions should each have “a uniquely serialized number.”

The statutory amendments established the way in which the prescription forms must be printed, the various features that the prescription forms must include, and the way in which the dispenser of controlled substances must report the serial number to the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) system. However, the amendments did not provide any grace period within which prescribers could bring themselves into compliance.

As a result, prescribers who waited too long to order the new prescription forms found themselves on January 1, 2019 without any valid prescription forms, causing delays in filling prescriptions for controlled substances.

On March 11, 2019, Governor Newsom signed AB 149, which took effect immediately and addressed the problem of noncompliant prescription forms.

The bill provides that the Department of Justice establish a date no later than January 1, 2020 for prescription forms to be printed bearing uniquely serialized numbers. The bill further provides that the requirement for a prescriber to use a prescription form with a uniquely serialized number will not take effect until January 1, 2021, at the earliest, and that the date may be extended as much as six months if the Department of Justice finds that there are an inadequate number of prescription forms bearing uniquely serialized numbers.

AB 149 thus provides a substantial extension of time for both the production and use of prescription forms bearing uniquely serialized numbers.