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Medical Council and PSI joint guidance on controlled drugs for doctors and pharmacists

October 17, 2017

PSI President Rory O'Donnell and Medical Council member Dr Consilia Walsh

The Medical Council and the PSI, the pharmacy regulator, today launched a joint initiative aimed at doctors and pharmacists, entitled ‘Safe Prescribing and Dispensing of Controlled Drugs’. The guidance will provide a useful resource to facilitate safer prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs. It also serves to encourage best practice and raise and promote high levels of professional standards in the treatment of patients.

This is the first publication from the partnership between the two regulatory authorities, which established a working group to examine common areas of concern to safeguard patient and public health outcomes. Drafted in consultation with doctors and pharmacists, the collaborative guide outlines the changes brought about by the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017, which came into effect in May this year. The guidance clearly sets out how those legal provisions and requirements are designed to enable patients to safely access controlled drugs, respecting their substantial potential for abuse and misuse.

Acknowledging publication of the guidance, Catherine Byrne T.D., Minister of State for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy, said: “I welcome this guidance document which will complement and support the new Misuse of Drugs regulations which I signed earlier this year. It will help prescribers and pharmacists to better understand their obligations under legislation and facilitate safer prescribing and dispensing of controlled drugs, which will ultimately enhance the safe and effective care of patients taking medicines with a potential to cause harm.”

Speaking at the launch of the guidance, Medical Council member Dr Consilia Walsh said the Medical Council were very pleased to be working closely with the PSI to produce this guidance. “It’s a wonderful resource for the medical community, and should help guide our members through the recent changes to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations. We’re very grateful to everyone who contributed to the compilation of this guidance, including other regulatory bodies, patient advocate groups, the Department of Health, and the advisory Committee members.”

PSI President Rory O’Donnell added that, “The joint guidance will be a valuable resource for pharmacists and is an example of how doctors and pharmacists can work together to provide continued patient care. It is an extremely positive development, with the PSI and the Medical Council working together to support healthcare professionals towards a common aim – ensuring the safe and effective provision of controlled drugs to Irish patients.”

The joint guidance and related content is available in the guidance on safe supply of medicines section.

Additional Information

Both the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI) and the Medical Council are health regulators established in law to protect the health and safety of the public through the respective regulation of pharmacists and pharmacies, and medical doctors in Ireland. This includes setting high standards for professional practice, standards of education and training, registering professionals for practice, and dealing with complaints, including instigating fitness to practice proceedings.

More information about their roles and responsibilities can be found on the PSI website and on the Medical Council website.

Controlled Drugs are substances, products or preparations, including medicines, that are either known to be, or have the potential to be, dangerous, harmful to human health, including being liable to misuse or causing social harm. These are subject to control under the Misuse of Drugs Acts 1977 to 2016. The Misuse of Drugs Regulations categorise controlled drug substances into 5 schedules ranging from the most tightly controlled in schedule 1 to the least tightly controlled in schedule 5. Each schedule contains various drug substances and drug products based on their perceived medical benefit and their risk to public health. There are different restrictions to control the supply of each schedule of controlled drugs. The joint guidance published by the PSI and Medical Council focuses primarily on the controlled drugs found in schedule 2, schedule 3 and schedule 4 Part 1.

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