Durham-Humphrey Amendment of 1951

Posted on 03.29.2016

As pharmacy technicians, it is important to be familiar with the laws and regulations that pertain to the industry. Otherwise, you run the risk of violating laws you may not even know about. The system is complex but necessary to ensure patient safety. Interrelated laws, regulations, and standards help make sure that the marketing and dispensing of medications is carried out safely and in the public’s best interest.

Let’s continue our review of pharmacy law. Today we are going to look at the Durham-Humphrey Amendment of 1951. It’s not as lengthy as some of the other laws we have studied, but after learning about it you will see how important it is!

Durham-Humphrey Amendment

Passed by Congress on October 26, 1951, this bill required any drug that was habit-forming or potentially harmful to be dispensed under the supervision of a health practitioner as a prescription drug and must carry the statement, “Caution:  Federal law prohibits dispensing without prescription.” Until this law, there was no requirement for any drug to be labeled for sale by prescription only. This amendment established the distinction between so-called legend (prescription) drugs and over the counter (nonprescription) drugs. The amendment also authorized the taking of prescriptions verbally, rather than in writing, and the refilling of prescriptions.

It might be interesting to know that former vice president Hubert H. Humphrey was a pharmacist in South Dakota before he became active in politics. He co-sponsored this amendment along with Carl Durham, a pharmacist representing North Carolina in the House of Representatives.