The Pharmacy Board has reminded pharmacists to “remain vigilant” for stolen or fraudulent scripts
The Board has reminded pharmacists to keep an eye out for stolen prescription pads and fraudulent scripts in its latest newsletter.
“At all times pharmacists must remain vigilant to ensure the legal supply of prescription medication,” says the Board.
“This is particularly important for schedule 4 and 8 medicines that are subject to abuse, such as benzodiazepines and opioids.”
It recommends that scripts for these classes of medicine should be checked thoroughly, with any deficiencies raised with prescribers and, when appropriate, reported to the relevant department of health/ authority and/or police.
“The supply of such medicines in the absence of a legal prescription results in unacceptable risks to the public and matters reported to the relevant authorities will have serious consequences for pharmacists,” says the Board.
“State and territory drugs and poisons legislation outline the requirements for valid prescriptions.”
Stolen script pads and fraudulent prescriptions have featured in several legal cases recently.
Foe example, in September 2017 a NSW man admitted in court that he had found a doctor’s prescription pad while working for a document shredding company.
Instead of destroying the pad, the worker pocketed it and began writing himself prescriptions for OxyContin tablets.
He successfully filled the scripts four times before a suspicious pharmacy staff member raised the alarm.
And in June last year, the NSW Ministry of Health’s Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit reported that “large numbers of forged prescriptions for fentanyl transdermal patches have been presented and dispensed at some pharmacies”.
The Ministry of Health advised pharmacists to contact prescribers who have written private prescriptions for drugs liable to abuse, particularly where the quantity requested is in excess of the maximum PBS quantity.
Pharmacists should also be wary of scripts for drugs at risk of abuse if the purported prescriber has contacted the pharmacy by telephone to authorise the dispensing, or if the script is presented by a person claiming to be agents for a third person, or group of people.
They should also contact prescribers if the patient is found to be obtaining scripts from multiple prescribers.
The Pharmacy Board has also warned pharmacists regarding legal dispensing without a prescription.
Provisions for supply of prescription only medicines without a prescription include:
- ‘emergency supply’ of a medication
- continued dispensing (in the case of oral contraceptives and statin medications), and/or
- taking a telephone order from a prescriber which enables pharmacists to use the ‘owing prescription’ provision to supply the medication in advance of receiving a valid prescription from the authorised prescriber.
Emergency supply provisions cannot be applied to controlled drugs (schedule 8 medicines) and in some jurisdictions certain classes of medication such as anabolic steroids and benzodiazepines.
“By not complying with the applicable legal requirements, pharmacists may be putting their patients at risk, and may also face prosecution by the relevant regulator and/or other disciplinary action by the Board,” it says.