Pharmacies ‘often targeted on weekends and after hours’

A fraudulent private script for Durogesic patch. Image: PDL (Supplied).

There has been a recent spate of fraudulent S8 prescriptions along the east coast of Australia, indemnity insurance provider warns

Pharmaceutical Defence Limited (PDL) is reminding pharmacists to remain vigilant and adhere to State-based legislation when dispensing any S8 prescriptions, following a recent spate of fraudulent scripts along the east coast of Australia.

“There have been several confirmed reports of fraudulent handwritten and computer-generated prescriptions for Durogesic patches in varying strengths and quantities,” says PDL.

“The prescriptions look legitimate and have handwritten instructions fulfilling all legal requirements for prescriptions written in NSW.”

Pharmacies are often called a short time before the prescription is presented to ensure they have the product/s in stock.

The prescriptions have contact details including a landline telephone number which, when called, may be answered by people impersonating reception staff or a prescriber.

“Should you receive a private or non-PBS prescription for Durogesic patches, please ensure you are familiar with the prescriber and/or the patient,” says PDL.

“Pharmacists should be mindful that pharmacies are often targeted on weekends and after hours when it is more difficult to confirm prescriptions.”

Other “red flags” may include a prescription marked non-PBS or multiple packs prescribed.

A fraudulent script for 10 Fentanyl patches. Image supplied by PDL.
A fraudulent script for 10 Fentanyl patches. Image supplied by PDL.

“Pharmacists are advised to take extreme care to verify the legitimacy of the prescription. It may be prudent to check the AHPRA website for the prescriber’s details and ensure that the telephone number provided is linked to an established practice that relates to the prescriber’s location,” says PDL.

“Further independent enquiries may be made to double check the details and ensure the practitioner is genuine. This might include asking for both the prescriber and provider number or other open-ended questions about the nature of the treatment.”

Access to other tools such as My Health Record and Real Time Monitoring programs, where available (e.g. Safescript, DORA) may also be used to identify fraudulent prescriptions or seek clarity.

PDL says if pharmacists should they receive a prescription for S8 medication, appropriate steps to establish that the prescription is legitimate must be taken prior to dispensing the product.

Depending on State legislation, if a pharmacist is unable to verify the legitimacy of a prescription however believes that the prescription is genuine, there may be a provision to supply no more than two days’ treatment (in the case of Durogesic, a single patch) until verification can be made.  Please ensure you are familiar with the appropriate State-based legislation.

If confirmed that a presented prescription has been fraudulently produced, the prescription must not be dispensed.

It should be retained, if possible and safe to do so, and the police contacted.  The relevant state-based regulatory unit should also be notified.

Please contact PDL on 1300 854 838 or state-based regulator for further information on this issue.

Read this previous Practice Alert on how to identify a forged script

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