Reports over questionable bulk medicine sales on the rise, Pharmacy Board warns

The Pharmacy Board of Australia has expressed concern about a recent increase in reports of pharmacies participating in bulk selling of goods.

As reported by the Pharmacy Council of NSW there has been an increase in cases – akin to wholesaling – of bulk purchase requests involving in some instances over 100 packs of a medicine in a single purchase.

“This raises issues such as contravention of jurisdictional drugs and poisons legislation, noncompliance with practice standards and Board guidelines, and practice not aligning with the National Medicines Policy. The policy aims to ensure the quality use of medicines, stating that ‘medicines, whether prescribed, recommended, and/or self-selected should be used only when appropriate…” said the Board in its recent quarterly newsletter

The reports of the bulk sale of scheduled medicines have “relevance to pharmacists in all jurisdictions”, the Board says.

“Pharmacists, as partners to the policy, must use their knowledge and skill to make informed recommendations to patients and to counsel on how to use medications for optimal outcomes,” it advises.

“If asked to sell scheduled medications in bulk, pharmacists are unable to determine the appropriateness of what is being requested relative to the patient who takes the medication”.

The Board’s Guidelines on practice-specific issues state in Guideline 4, Supply of Schedule 2 poisons (Pharmacy Medicines) and Schedule 3 (Pharmacist Only Medicines), that only one proprietary pack of Pharmacy Medicines and Pharmacist Only Medicines is to be supplied at a time, unless there are exceptional circumstances clearly demonstrable by the customer, additional documentation of which should be kept.

The Council also said recent social media forums included circulating photos of a souvenir store selling scheduled medicines.

This raised “the issue of how these medicines were obtained, which may be through the bulk supply from pharmacies. Pharmacists are reminded of their obligations to supply appropriate quantities of scheduled medicines,” the Board newsletter said.