Controlled Drugs!…….3 important things you need to know about Pharmacy Emergency Medicine Supply in the UK.

Controlled Drugs!.......3 important things you need to know about Pharmacy Emergency Medicine Supply in the UK.

Did you know some medicines are not eligible for emergency supply in the UK?
During my community pharmacy practice over the years in the UK, I have witnessed customer/patient frustration regarding emergency supply of medicines when they or their family members run out of medicines.
These frustrations worsen when they realise that although they fulfil the requirements for emergency supply of a medicine/medicines, they still may not be able to get the medicine even if the pharmacy has it in stock!
The case that prompted us to write this mini piece involves a mum trying to get some medicine for her young son, on a Friday evening
She was referred to our pharmacy via NHS 111.
According to her, she started the process around 10 am in the morning and she was now speaking to member of our staff around 4.30pm in the evening.
Although we could not supply her the medicine, we provided her with appropriate and helpful advice.

What is an emergency medicines supply?

According to the Medicines, Ethics and Practice, Edition 45, published by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, “In an emergency, a pharmacist working in a registered pharmacy can supply prescription only medicines (POMs) to a patient (humans not animals) without a prescription on the request of a ‘relevant prescriber’ OR a patient.”
Please note that certain conditions must be met and healthcare professionals outside the EEA (European Economic Area) and Switzerland are not recognised as ‘relevant prescribers’.

There are two types of emergency request that a registered UK pharmacy can deal with:

Where can you get an emergency medicine supply?

You can get an emergency medicine supply from any UK registered pharmacy.
A significant amount of the supply pharmacies deal with are at the request of the patient.
The good thing here is that the NHS in England has made the process easier for patients through the Community Pharmacy Consultation Service (CPCS), an NHS advanced service that was commissioned in 2019.
This service is delivered via NHS 111.

For minor ailments and emergency supplies, it is better to complete the NHS 111 online form

The response time is faster than making a telephone call.
Please, also note that you may have to pay a charge for an emergency supply. The pharmacy staff will inform you if that is the case.

Who is eligible for an emergency medicine supply?

Certain criteria must be satisfied by a patient before a pharmacist can make an emergency supply of a medicine.
  1. There must be an immediate need for the medicine and it is not practical to get a valid prescription without delay.
  2. The medicine/medicines have been prescribed by a UK, EEA or Swiss relevant prescriber and have been used by the patient (the pharmacist will decide if the interval between the request and last treatment justifies a supply. This is referred to as professional judgement ).
  3. The dose of the medicine has been confirmed (through the label on a finished pack, copy of repeat prescription or other electronic records).
  4. The medicine is not a Control Drug under schedule 1,2 and 3 except phenobarbital for the treatment of epilepsy.

*Most schedule 1 drugs have no therapeutic use and a license is generally required for their production, possession or supply.

As such, you will hardly find them in a community pharmacy except if they are licensed to supply such drugs.

It is with criterion number 4 that some patients find frustrating, if their medicine falls into this category they have run out.
There are quite a wide range of medicines under this category, but I will list a few that are commonly prescribed:
If you are on any of the above medicines or other medicines that are classed as schedule 2 or 3, YOU WILL NEED A VALID PRESCRIPTION FROM A RELEVANT PRESCRIBER FOR AN EMERGENCY SUPPLY.
Should you find that due to circumstances beyond your control, you need an emergency supply for a schedule 2 or 3 medicine, make sure you clearly explain the situation to NHS 111 staff (either over the phone or online) so they can help you get a prescriber.

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