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Duke can’t ship prescribed medications, staff to work with students when retrieving their items

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Duke is working on shipping students’ needed items from their dorms, but medical prescriptions aren’t included on the list of essential items.

In a March 13 email, Joe Gonzalez, assistant vice president of student life and dean for residential life, provided the example of “medications” as an essential item that may be shipped back to students. That has now been reversed, as it would be illegal for Duke to mail students’ prescribed controlled substances and other medications to them, Mary Pat McMahon, vice provost/president of student affairs, told The Chronicle March 14.

“You can't, just can't, it's not legal. You can't do it,” she said.

Students prescribed with medications that are not controlled substances need to reach out to the original prescriber to get a refill of such medications, wrote John Vaughn, director of Student Health Services, in an email to The Chronicle. 

Students with prescriptions from Student Health providers can communicate with them through Duke MyChart, and their prescriptions can be called into the student’s preferred pharmacy, such as a home pharmacy, Vaughn explained. Students with prescribed medications from a personal physician or non-Student Health Duke health care provider need to reach out to those providers for their refills, he added.

“The Duke Campus Center Pharmacy can also transfer existing prescriptions to a student’s home pharmacy as needed,” he wrote.

For controlled substances, students must visit their home providers to be evaluated and treated. 

“These include but are not limited to most ADHD medications, certain pain medications, and a category of medications called benzodiazepines that are used to treat some mental health conditions,” Vaughn wrote.

When it comes to the necessary belongings that Duke can ship, McMahon wrote that the plan as of now is for a “team of staff” to contact students while they are retrieving the items, such as through a phone call or FaceTime.

“We don't want to be digging through anyone's stuff, truly, for everyone's sake,” she wrote.

Jake Satisky contributed reporting.

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