Alprazolam may have been identified by attacker

There are potential public safety risks from consumers’ medicines being identifiable after dispensing, reminds authority

There are regulations for the transfer of dispensed medicines throughout a pharmacy in open baskets, the Victorian Pharmacy Authority has reminded pharmacy licensees in a communique.

“Pharmacists may be aware of recent media coverage about a consumer being robbed at knifepoint after leaving a pharmacy in Western Australia,” says VPA Chair David McConville.

“The consumer had just had a prescription for alprazolam tablets filled, and these were demanded by the attacker along with the consumer’s wallet.

“It is not clear whether or not the dispensed medicines were identified by the attacker in the pharmacy.

“However, when informing staff and consumers about the legislative requirement to maintain the privacy of dispensed medicines in the pharmacy, licensees are also encouraged to highlight the potential public safety risks that could result from consumers’ medicines being identifiable after dispensing.”

The Pharmacy Regulation Act 2010 includes a requirement which states adequate arrangements must be in place to ensure the identity of a medicine being supplied or dispensed to a client of the pharmacy cannot be known by another person present in the pharmacy or pharmacy department who is not a person carrying on the pharmacy business or pharmacy department or a member of the staff.

In a May panel hearing, a licensee was cautioned after investigators found the identity of dispensed medicines was not kept private, with open baskets used for transfer between the dispensary and cash-and-wrap counter.

In addition to the caution, the licensee was required to develop and submit a procedure to assure the privacy of dispensed medicines in the pharmacy on an ongoing basis.

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