Is It OK For Your Father To Prescribe You A Controlled Substance?

In our latest question and answer, our pharmacist discusses the legal and ethical concerns regarding prescribing family members controlled substances.

Dec 02, 2017

Jackofalltrades asked

Hello, I work in pharmacy but had a question. I have had severe pain in my throat and some nausea. My father is a physician. can he prescribe me a schedule V medicine to help with my symptoms?


Different states have different regulations in regard to whether or not relatives can prescribe medications for one another. The laws among states are overall similar however.

At the very least, every patient that is being prescribed a controlled substance needs to have a patient record on file with the prescriber and an initial examination

Let's use New York State for example. From New York State Part 80 (Rules and Regulations on Controlled Substances in NYS):

"No controlled substance prescription shall be issued prior to the examination of the patient by the practitioner except as otherwise permitted by this subdivision."

The exceptions are only applicable after an initial examination by the practitioner. A prescriber cannot prescribe a controlled substance if they have never evaluated the patient or are not covering for a doctor who gave you an exam.

If you have never had an examination by your father (or he is not covering for a doctor from which you received an exam), he would not be able to legally prescribe you a controlled substance in New York.

If you are in a state where it is legal to prescribe a controlled substance to you, there are ethical concerns. Per the AMA (American Medical Association):

“Physicians generally should not treat themselves or members of their immediate families.  Professional objectivity may be compromised when an immediate family member or the physician is the patient; the physician’s personal feelings may unduly influence his or her professional medical judgment, thereby interfering with the care being delivered. Physicians may fail to probe sensitive areas when taking the medical history or may fail to perform intimate parts of the physical examination.”

If you have any further questions, be sure to reach out to your primary care doctor or your father for a recommendation to treat your medical problem.

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