UK Home Office to implement emergency measures on prescribing controlled drugs

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK Home Secretary is seeking to relax the regulations on prescribing controlled drugs.

In a letter to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs, the Home Secretary outlines three emergency measures which are intended to be introduced.

These are:

  • Pharmacies are to be allowed to supply drugs controlled under Schedule 2, 3 and Part 1 Schedule 4 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, where the patient has been receiving them as part of ongoing treatment
  • If the prescribed drug is unavailable or in short supply a substitute may be supplied by the pharmacist
  • A pharmacist may change the frequency of instalments of a prescribed drug without the need for a new prescription

The letter goes on to state that these measures will help secure access to controlled drugs within the healthcare system in a pandemic and where there is a serious risk to human health. They will ensure patients continue to have access to medicines critical for on-going treatment, build resilience and help relieve pressure elsewhere in the health system.

The Home Secretary has requested the ACMD to advise on the potential harms or risks relating to these three measures, and the balance of the harms and risks of not proceeding in the current exceptional circumstances by the 3rd of April and it is expected that the measures will be implemented soon after based on the response.

Scottish Drugs Forum welcomes these necessary changes made imperative in the light of the emerging situation resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Full details of the changes are available here.

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