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By Dan Schulte, J.D.
MDA Legal Counsel
From the September 2013 issue of the Journal

Question: What are the different Michigan and federal licensing requirements applicable to dentists for prescribing medications? Are there different licensing requirements applicable to prescribing controlled substances that are not applicable to prescribing medications not classified as controlled substances, such as antibiotics?

Answer:The type of license(s) a Michigan dentist needs depends on whether he or she is prescribing controlled substances in addition to other medications, and whether he or she is dispensing (in addition to just prescribing) controlled substances and other medications.

Generally, prescribing and dispensing non-controlled substance medications is governed and monitored by the state of Michigan, and the prescribing and dispensing of controlled substances is governed and monitored on both the state and federal levels.

In Michigan, a license to practice dentistry and certain other health professions also confers the right to prescribe non-controlled substance medications, such as antibiotics. If a dentist seeks only to prescribe such basic medications, no additional license is required. If a dentist wishes to stock and dispense medications (whether the medication is a controlled substance or not) from his office, he must also obtain a drug control license from the Michigan Board of Pharmacy and comply with all the legal requirements applicable to the storage and dispensing of medications.

The state of Michigan and the federal government have their own statutory laws and administrative rules applicable to the prescribing and dispensing of medications that are controlled substances. To prescribe or dispense a medication that is a controlled substance a dentist must obtain an additional license from both the state of Michigan and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”). Controlled substances (e.g., narcotics) are classified and listed on five schedules. Which schedule the controlled substance medication is included on depends on whether the medication has a currently accepted use in medical treatment in the United States, the medication’s relative abuse potential, and its likelihood of causing dependence.

Schedule I medications are considered to have no currently accepted use in medical treatment in the United States and therefore may not be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use. Only, Schedule II-V medications may be prescribed, administered or dispensed for medical use by properly licensed health care providers.

To prescribe medications that are controlled substances, a Michigan dentist must obtain a controlled substance license from the Michigan Board of Pharmacy. A dentist’s controlled substance license permits the dentist to prescribe medications that are controlled substances at multiple office locations. However, to dispense medications that are controlled substances there are licensing requirements that would be applicable to each individual office location where controlled substances are dispensed.

In addition to the required Michigan controlled substance license a dentist must also be registered with the DEA to prescribe and/or dispense medications that are controlled substances. The federal controlled substances laws are designed to work in conjunction with state controlled substance laws. Consequently, issuance of a DEA registration number is predicated on a health care provider successfully completing all applicable state licensing requirements. A DEA registration number may also be summarily suspended or revoked in the event a dentist’s Michigan controlled substance license or license to practice dentistry is suspended or revoked.

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