Going to tell you from the start–this is not a long one and is a bit boring. But the topic comes up a lot.
“Mister Attorney, can you tell me where in the law it says blah, blah, blah?”
Most lawyers when they hear this question either slowly shake their heads in a sage manner or look for a wall to hit their heads against.
Why? Because most of the time what is being sought is not specifically in the law. Generally, it is simply not there in the wording being sought by the petitioner. Instead, the act or rule sought is to be interpreted from an existing law.
Think of it this way. It is far easier for a law-making body to pass the following “Drivers shall obey all common traffic rules” than take the time and energy to “Thou shalt stop at stop signs” “Thou shalt, when stopped at a stop sign, permit all other drivers who preceded you to the intersection to proceed before you do” “If, while stopped at a stop sign, you and another driver arrived at the same moment, the driver to the right shall proceed first” “Thou shalt stop at a red stoplight”
- You get the picture. This is why laws are sometimes (actually, most of the time) written so vaguely. This is done deliberately by the lawmaking body so as to include all the “sins” they can cover without having to enact laws that mention each “sin” specifically.
The same is true in pharmacy. Is there a law by which the board of pharmacy may punish pharmacists and pharmacies that violate the law? Yes. KRS 315.191 and 201 KAR 2:061 (we will be citing Kentucky law here). But is there a law that states the Board may punish a pharmacist for misfilling a prescription? Yes and no. KRS 315.121 provides grounds for acting against a license. Does it mention misfilling? No. Still, we can interpret the law to recognize it includes misfilling. The statute includes “unprofessional conduct” and “engaging in conduct likely to … harm the public” which the board interprets as including misfiling, violating privacy, dispensing a refill where none are authorized, etc. The list of interpreted violations of pharmacy law could just go on and on.
And the board does not have the time to write and enact regulations for every possible violation of pharmacy law out there. Board meetings would have to be weekly and law books would fill up the space occupied by the board offices. Rather, the KY Legislature and the Board enact statutes and regulations that most often more than adequately meet the needs of the pharmacy community.
Even worse, sometimes the “law” one is seeking is a distillation of multiple laws. The offense a pharmacist may be accused of may actually require the interpretation of more than one law to find that the pharmacist actually committed a violation.
So, when you are looking for a “law” that says a specific statement, do not be surprised that it may not exist, but rather is the interpretation by government entities permitted to make such interpretations.