California Security Printer Program

AB 149 – New Requirements for Prescription Forms

A new California law has been enacted that impacts the production and use of controlled substance prescription forms. Assembly Bill 149 (AB 149), which became effective on March 12, 2019, introduces new form features and a corresponding transition period. Please refer to AB 149 – New Requirements for Prescription Forms bulletin.

California law requires prescribers of any Schedule II through V controlled substance to obtain and use new tamper-resistant prescription forms ordered only from state-approved security printers. The new tamper-resistant forms replaced triplicate prescription forms in 2005.

Effective January 1, 2006, vendors seeking to become state-approved printers of controlled substances prescription forms must apply with the California Department of Justice using application forms here on the Attorney General’s website. The California State Board of Pharmacy no longer administers applications for security prescription vendors.

Applicants generally are screened for prior criminal history and the adequacy of policies and procedures to ensure that prescription forms are only produced and distributed to appropriately licensed practitioners. Security printers must have a means for confirming the licensure and prescribing privileges for any person requesting controlled substance prescription forms.

The state law, Senate Bill 734 (Chapter 487, Stats. 2005), that gave the California Department of Justice sole responsibility for reviewing applications from vendors seeking approval to produce controlled substance prescription forms also made other changes to:

  • Expand criminal background checks for security prescription vendor applicants to include state, federal and foreign convictions and arrests. (Health & Safety Code section 11161.5(b)(5)(a) and (b).)
  • Allow the Department of Justice to deny a security prescription vendor application if the applicant, any individual owner, partner, corporate officer, manager, agent, representative, employee or subcontractor for the applicant, who has direct access, management or control of controlled substance prescription forms, has ever been convicted of a crime. (Health & Safety Code section 11161.5(d)(1).)
  • Require security prescription vendor applicants to authorize the Department of Justice to make any examination of books or records of the applicant, or to visit and inspect the applicant’s premises, as a condition of approval. (Health & Safety Code section 11161.5(d)(7).)
  • Require approved applicants to submit an exemplar of a controlled substance prescription form, with all the security features, to the Department of Justice within 30 days of initial production. (Health & Safety Code section 11161.5(e).)
  • Allow the Department of Justice to assess a fee sufficient to cover all processing, maintenance and investigative costs generated from or associated with completing state, federal or foreign background checks on security prescription vendor applicants. (Health & Safety Code section 11161.5(b)(5)(d).)
  • Make specified format changes to new controlled substances prescription forms:
    • Require all controlled substance prescription forms to have the statement, “Prescription is void if the number of drugs prescribed is not noted” printed on the bottom and a line provided for the practitioner to write in the number of drugs prescribed. (Health & Safety Code section 11162.1(a)(8).)
    • Require controlled substance prescription forms to include an identifying number assigned by the Department of Justice to the approved security prescription vendor. (Health & Safety Code section 11162.1(a)(11).)
    • Require a check box next to the name of each prescriber when the prescription form lists multiple prescriber. The prescriber must identify himself or herself by checking the box by his/her name. (Health & Safety Code section 11162.1(a)(12).)