Must a pharmacy obtain an individual’s written authorization prior to discussing with the individual an alternative medication to the one prescribed to the individual in a face-to-face encounter?
No. Face-to-face communications with an individual about specific products or services do not require individual authorization, even if such communications are subsidized by the third party whose product or service is being described. See 45 CFR 164.508(a)(3)(i)(A). Thus, a pharmacy or other covered entity may discuss with, or hand printed information to, an individual about particular medicines in a face-to-face encounter, without triggering the individual authorization requirements of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. However, face-to-face communications do not include communications over the telephone or by e-mail or mail.