North Carolina Controlled Substance Transfer Problem

In this article, our pharmacist discusses an issue a reader is having regarding a controlled substance prescription transfer.


I switched pharmacies in NC. I had 2 refills of Alprazolam left at my old pharmacy. I did not know about the one time rule,. and I dont see my doctor until Jan 22, so that is a month without my med which we all know would be dangerous. My old pharmacy will not fill it for me. So what do I do, will I need a new rx for one month? I don't want my doctor to think Im trying something shady. But have no idea what to do. Thanks.

Asked by Dave On Nov 05, 2017

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By PharmacistAnswers Staff

On Nov 06, 2017

As you mentioned, North Carolina has a 'one time only' transfer rule for controlled substances in classes C III-V. This means that a controlled substance contained within those classes may only be transferred as a one time fill, regardless of how many refills are left on the original prescription. 

However, per North Carolina law, if the pharmacies can communicate electronically in real time, with an online database, the entire prescription can be transferred. This would only be the case most likely if you are transferring pharmacies within the same chain (e.g. Walgreens to Walgreens).

NC Controlled Substance Transfer Law

I would get clarification from your original pharmacy in regard to what is going on.

Did they transfer the entire prescription to another pharmacy? Did they transfer one fill and cancel the rest? Is there another reason they are not allowing refills on the original? Is it expired? Get specifics from the pharmacy because if you don't have a valid refill anywhere, you need a new prescription.

If you need a new prescription, it is important you understand the situation appropriately so you can relay that information to the doctor. Communication is key.  If the pharmacy made a mistake, it may be an option to have them contact the prescriber.

Additionally, North Carolina has a database that maintains a fill log of controlled substances for patients. The database is called the 'North Carolina Controlled Substance Reporting System'. If your doctor is concerned about drug abuse and diversion, they can verify your fill history on that database.

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Dr. Brian Staiger is a licensed pharmacist in New York State and the founder of He graduated from the University At Buffalo with a Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2010. He has been featured in numerous publications including the Huffington Post as well as a variety of health and pharmacy-related blogs. Please feel free to reach out to him directly if you have any inquiries or want to connect! He's answered thousands of medication and pharmacy-related questions and he's ready to answer yours! Office: 716-389-3076

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