Pharmacists show contempt: regulators

Concerns raised over ‘incompetent’ handling of S8 medicines

Pharmacy regulators around Australia are becoming “dismayed” at the handling of Schedule 8 medicines by the sector, a new release reveals.

In its latest circular, the Victorian Pharmacy Authority says some pharmacists are treating their obligations in safe handling and recording of S8 medicines with “contempt”.

The strong words used by the VPA follow three recent case hearings involving S8 products.

In one case the pharmacy was found to have failed “to ensure that records of all transactions in Schedule 8 poisons showed the true and accurate balance of each Schedule 8 poison remaining in their possession after each transaction”.

It had also failed to keep Schedule 8 safes locked at all times to prevent unauthorised access.

The proprietor was reprimanded and a condition placed on their pharmacy business licence requiring quarterly submission of pharmacy self-audits to the Authority for a period of twelve months.

“Members of pharmacy regulatory bodies around Australia have been dismayed at the casual and sometimes incompetent managing of Schedule 8 poisons by far too many pharmacists,” the VPA said.

“Even though the relevant laws are taught during undergraduate courses, some pharmacists have chosen to treat their obligations in a manner that is little short of contempt.

Far too many cases are brought to attention where the contents of a drug safe and the entries in the register bear little resemblance to one another.”

The VPA says it is “increasingly evident” that pharmacists must continually review the volume of S8 drugs dispensed by the pharmacy, the stock levels maintained and the storage capacity available within compliant S8 poisons safes.

“If storage capacity is not adequate then arrangements must be made to purchase an additional or larger safe”.

Commenting on the warning, PSA National Vice President Michelle Lynch said:

“It’s disappointing, and of serious concern, that some pharmacists are not meeting their legal and professional obligations in the handling of Schedule 8 medicines.

“Given the risks associated with these potent substances, the procurement, storage, supply and recording of this class of medicines are subject to strict legislative controls.

“Professional privileges granted to pharmacists confer a fundamental duty on everyone to be responsible and accountable in managing all therapeutic goods.

“PSA urges every pharmacist to review their procedures and practices to identify and rectify any gaps in standard or performance – and to review their current therapeutic and clinical references to ensure they are the latest editions.”

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