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Washington State University
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences Current Student Resources

State Laws & Regulations

College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences
Washington State University

William E. Fassett, PhD, RPh
Professor of Pharmacy Law & Ethics
Copyright © 2003, 2007, 2008 All Rights Reserved

I believe the following table covers two types of questions regarding the laws and regulations governing pharmacy in most states. Some cover the general structure for regulating practice in the state, but most deal with practical issues facing pharmacists. If a pharmacist or student can find the answer to most of these questions as it pertains to the law of a state in which he or she wishes to be licensed, then he or she should be prepared for a large percentage of the questions that are typically found on state pharmacy law examinations. This is not a complete list of possible questions, however. Also, some of these questions or situations are not specifically addressed by pharmacy regulations in some states.

If you have suggestions for additional questions I should add to the following list, please e-mail me at

Dr. Fassett’s recommendations for preparing for a state law exam

  • Read completely whatever material the Board of Pharmacy provides to all applicants.
  • Review a text or other material on federal law, and pay particular attention to regulations dealing with controlled substances.
  • Review the DEA publication, “Pharmacist’s Manual: An Informational Outline of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.” This is available is available on the website of the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control.
  • Attend, if desired, an update or review session covering recent changes in the state law.
  • Attempt to find answers to at least each of the following questions as they apply to the state you are attempting to become registered in. If you find specific questions that don’t seem to be covered in your state law material, check with a pharmacist from your state to see if they can tell you what the practice would be. You may also find that the state board will respond to a limited number of questions about specific situations.
  • In my experience, states emphasize ambulatory or community practice in their examinations, so this list does not include much concerning institutional, long-term care, home IV, nuclear pharmacy, or other specialized practices. If your state has extensive regulations for any or all of these settings, be sure to learn how the regulations differ in each setting. It may be helpful to create a comparison chart concerning at least the following areas: labeling of containers dispensed or administered to patients; controlled substance record keeping; rules for access to the pharmacy if a pharmacist is not present; special requirements to practice or supervise the practice site; type of license binding; rules for use of technicians; and special policies or procedures that must be developed.
  • Talk with other pharmacists who have taken the state law examination recently and determine any areas they remember that surprised them or that they were unprepared for.
  • Get a good night’s sleep prior to the exam.

My students in recent years have had above a 90% pass rate on their first attempt at law exams. If you have done well in your rotations, and have taken time to review for the law exam, you should expect to pass. So relax, and prepare to enjoy your future as a licensed pharmacist.