Requiring Patient Identification Prior to Prescription Drug Dispensation


Requiring patient identification prior to prescription drug dispensation is one of many methods by which states limit the sale of prescription drugs. States can require pharmacists to request identification (ID) prior to dispensing a controlled substance, and require patients to show ID prior to picking up a controlled substance prescription.


To better control access to prescription drugs

Typical Elements

  • As of 2013, 33 states require pharmacists to request patient IDs before dispensing a controlled substance (National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws [NAMSDL], 2013).
  • Twenty-four states require patients to show ID before picking up a controlled substance prescription, either in all cases or under specific circumstances (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], n.d.).
  • States vary in their regulations governing whether or when a patient ID is required prior to dispensing a controlled substance (CDC, n.d.; NAMSDL, 2013). For example:
    • Delaware requires ID for any controlled substances.
    • Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia require ID if the patient is unknown to the pharmacist.
    • Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, Virginia, and West Virginia require ID when certain potentially suspicious criteria are present (for example, the patient pays in cash, or the patient has prescriptions for the same or similar controlled substances from more than one practitioner).
    • Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Carolina, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia require ID for specific schedules of prescription drugs.
    • Florida, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, and Virginia allow pharmacists to use their own discretion when dispensing controlled substances.
    • Maine requires ID for out-of-state prescriptions.
    • Idaho, Minnesota, and Nevada require ID if the prescription is not covered at least in part by a health plan.
  • States also vary in the types of ID required (CDC, n.d.; NAMSDL, 2013):
    • Connecticut, Florida, Louisiana, and Minnesota accept any photo ID.
    • Massachusetts and Oklahoma accept any government ID.
    • Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, South Carolina, and West Virginia accept photographic government ID.
    • Illinois, Indiana, New York, Oregon, and Texas accept “positive” or “appropriate” (or similar language) documents or ID, such as a government or photo ID.
      • Note: State statutes vary to the extent that they specify the requirements of these IDs, with some states requiring a combination of photo and government ID and others only requiring “appropriate identification.” Common requirement-fulfilling IDs are driver’s licenses, military IDs, employer IDs, and college IDs.
  • State provisions vary in defining the circumstances when a pharmacist can dispense to a patient without ID in spite of a state ID law (CDC, n.d.; NAMSDL, 2013):
    • Florida, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Vermont allow this if the pharmacist can confirm a patient’s identity and/or the validity of the prescription by other means.
    • Massachusetts, Michigan, and Texas allow this if the pharmacist determines that not dispensing the medication will be detrimental to the patient’s health.
  • States vary in their requirements for pharmacist documentation (CDC, n.d.; NAMSDL, 2013):
    • In Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Carolina, and Virginia, pharmacists must record the “unique number” and/or ID source.
    • In Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, and Virginia, pharmacists must obtain a photocopy of the ID.
    • In Hawaii and Idaho, pharmacists must capture the patient’s signature.




No outcome data have been found regarding the role of requiring patient identification prior to prescription drug dispensation in preventing the nonmedical use of prescription drugs and/or its consequences.


Pharmacist’s Manual—Sections IX–XIV. 

States that Require an ID From a Recipient Prior to Dispensing Prescriptions for Controlled Substances. 

Acknowledged by

National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. Model Prescription Accountability Act. 


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (n.d.). Menu of state prescription drug identification laws. Retrieved from

National Alliance for Model State Drug Laws. (2013). States that require an ID from a recipient prior to dispensing prescriptions for controlled substances. Retrieved from