The Story: On June 18 the Federal Communications Commission adopted a rule to protect consumers against unwanted robocalls and spam texts. The ruling was spurred by an outpouring from consumers, who lodged more than 215,000 complaints about unwanted calls in 2014 alone.

The Good News

Reportedly, the rule contains an exception that will allow free calls or texts to consumers to remind them of “important medication refills,” among other healthcare messages, without prior consent, but other types of healthcare calls, such as marketing or collection calls, are not permitted under those narrow exemptions. NACDS submitted several sets of comments to the FCC supporting pharmacists’ ability to send refill reminders and other healthcare messages.

The Upshot

Under the new rule, phone service providers can block robocalls and automated text messages if consumers request it. The new rule clarifies that texts are the same as phone calls. Under the existing rules, telemarketers need consent before targeting consumers’ wireless phones for nonemergency calls that are autodialed or prerecorded. The new rule would require companies to allow consumers to cancel the consent more easily than they can now.

What does this mean going forward?

NACDS is waiting for a release of the actual declatory ruling to determine the scope of the FCC regulatory position which allows pharmacies to send refill reminders and other healthcare messages without risking liability under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act. NACDS will keep members apprised of any developments.