Pharmacists being targeted to obtain S8 drugs

Be aware of people pretending to be doctors to obtain S8 drugs for an “emergency” on the promise of later supplying the prescription, warns health ministry

The NSW Ministry of Health has been receiving confirmed reports of pharmacists being targeted to obtain Schedule 8 drugs, including fentanyl patches, fraudulently.

“Fentanyl misuse is an emerging problem. The risk of drug dependence on fentanyl patches is high and misuse of fentanyl patches carries several risks of overdose,” NSW Health told AJP.

Pharmacists should be aware of people misrepresenting themselves as medical practitioners in order to obtain Schedule 8 drugs for an “emergency” on the promise of later supplying the prescription, NSW Health warned.

They also reminded pharmacists to be alert to the use of fake telephone numbers, or where it is claimed the patient or prescriber is travelling and the patient is in urgent need of medications.

“As most mobile telephones have a feature that allows an image to be taken of the prescription, pharmacists should request such an image to be sent to them via email or as a text message, to further enable them to verify the prescriber and that a prescription exists,” said NSW Health.

“If unable to verify the legitimacy of the telephone order, then a quantity sufficient for no more than two days’ treatment should be supplied until a written signed hardcopy prescription is obtained.”

It is important for pharmacists to check the validity of any prescriptions presented for dispensing, especially for multiple packs and as private prescriptions.

Any concerns on the appropriateness of prescriptions for fentanyl patches, including the directions for use, should be addressed with the prescriber in the first instance, said NSW Health.

If still concerned of patient safety or diversion risks, pharmacists can refuse to dispense and report it to NSW Health’s Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit.

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