S8 standards deteriorating in pharmacy

Non-compliance is rife in the handling of Schedule 8 medicines, the Pharmacy Board of Australia warns

In its latest quarterly newsletter, the Board has warned of the “deterioration” of S8 care in community pharmacy.

“Experience amongst pharmacy premises regulators suggests that there has been deterioration in the professional care and attention that some pharmacists are paying to the handling of Schedule 8 medicines,” the Board warns.

“Failure by pharmacists to provide the necessary professional care and attention will come at a cost to the community and may result in action taken by regulators under relevant legislation”.

Around half of all non-compliance issues relate to S8 medicine handling, the Board fears, saying there is “evidence in some jurisdictions that as much as 50 per cent of non-compliance issues associated with pharmacy premises visits/inspections conducted by pharmacy premises regulators were related to the inappropriate handling and storage of Schedule 8 medicines”.

The warning comes after state regulators had previously criticised pharmacy handling of these medicines in the wake of a series of pharmacies being fined or reprimanded for not meeting their obligations. 

Larger and bulkier S8 packs, the proliferation of products containing S8 medicines, the varying strengths and combinations available for S8 medicines such as oxycodone, morphine and naloxone, and increased S8 prescribing are all driving the rise in issues related to these products, the Board believes.

The Victorian Pharmacy Authority has previously warned that the introduction of new S8 poisons and new strengths of existing products meant that pharmacies would need larger or additional safes.

Among the Boards suggestions of possible reasons for the deficiencies are:

  • lack of familiarity with the jurisdictional legislative requirements relevant to Schedule 8 medicines
  • lack of familiarity with electronic recording software
  • lack of capacity of safes intended for the storage of S8 medicines, and
  • pharmacists deferring recording and on occasion, the complete absence of appropriate recording of the activities associated with S8 medicines.

“To ensure public safety, you must manage Schedule 8 medicines in accordance with your legal and professional obligations and minimise the opportunity for misuse of these medicines and illegal medicine redirection,” the Board circular concludes.

“Relevant legislation, professional practice standards and guidelines should be followed, and, where appropriate, you should seek advice from the relevant regulator such as state and territory pharmacy premises regulators.”

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