Doc's, Pharmacists - How did the hand-shake work pre-DEA?

OK, First: I’m not looking for specifics, I am an good terms with my Doc, so I don’t need to forge 'scrip.

But, I got to wondering:

Before the DEA issued their encoded numbers, and the web made verification as simple as verifying a credit card, how did the pharamcists know that the piece of paper presented, or the phone call made, legitimate?

Again, I don’t want details, just something like “if this squiggle appears here, there must be a corresponding squiggle over there”, or “secret code words” written on the 'scrip, signature verification, what?.


They knew most regional doctors and recognized their handwriting, and for the rest there would be telephone numbers on the Rx pad. They probably didn’t call every doctor whose scrawl they didn’t know from previous experience, just the scripts that triggered a raised eyebrow. Lanoxin, 250 mcg bid, no problemo. Lanoxin, 250 mg bid, “Hello Doctor Jones?”

Is it bad if as a pre-pharmacy major, it took me two reads to tell the difference between 250 mcg and 250 mg?

Note to self: don’t fill Rx at chaoticdonkey’s window
I suspect you’d have noticed if/when it came to “put the pills in the bottle” time.

I clerked and did deliveries in a “one man” (and a boy) pharmacy in high school 1979-80.

Narcotic 'scrips required a signiture…most stuff didn’t. Typical antibiotics, for example, could be phoned in. Some of the docs were sloppy about signing scrips, and people tended to get pissy about having to return to doc for a signiture.

The pharmacists would watch for the same or similar meds being prescribed for one patient by multiple doctors, or very large quantities. I can recall two such cases, one was an abuser, the other was a terminal case where the certainty of addiction was tolerable.

On the buisiness side, I saw a few shady things going on, but there was a much higher ethical standard applied to health-care issues.