Dispensing prescriptions from online doctor services

There are an increasing number of companies providing online doctor services to patients. The PSI would like to remind pharmacists of the importance of complying with their legal and professional requirements when dispensing a prescription from an online doctor.

Pharmacists are particularly reminded of the requirement to have a legally valid prescription for the supply of a prescription only medicine. The Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations 2003 (as amended) detail the format a prescription must adhere to for it to be legally valid. A fax or photocopy of a prescription, or a prescription which has been emailed either to the patient or pharmacy, is not a legally valid prescription.

The PSI has previously issued Advice on Emergency Supply which outlines the limited circumstances, provided for in the legislation, where an emergency supply can be made at the request of the patient or a prescriber.

Additionally, pharmacists are reminded of their obligation to comply with the Code of Conduct. The Code provides that the health, wellbeing, care and safety of the public, must be the primary concern of every pharmacist. If the pharmacist has any concerns with regard to the appropriateness of the medicine, they should contact the prescriber.

This practice update was made available in the PSI newsletter in April 2015.