The Pharmacists’ Defence Association (PDA) has written to pharmacy minister Steve Brine to ask for a meeting to discuss its fears that the risk of a criminal prosecution for an inadvertent dispensing error still remains, despite changes to the law which come into effect on 16 April 2018.
In its letter, the PDA reiterated its concerns about the reform of the Medicines Act 1968, which introduced a new defence for pharmacists working in registered premises for making an inadvertent dispensing error.
It told the minister that the statutory order that amends the Act fails to rule out a criminal prosecution in all cases.
“We have obtained independent legal advice from Queen’s Counsel, validated by pharmacy law specialists, which clarifies the current position for pharmacists. In essence, the advice states clearly that there are only two limited circumstances where a pharmacist can rely on these new defences,” the PDA wrote.
“The defences are not applicable in all circumstances where an inadvertent dispensing error may have taken place in supply circumstances other than those under section 63 or section 64 of the Medicines Act.”
The PDA said that it had raised its concerns with the independent Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board – the body set up by the government to oversee the reforms – but alleged that they had been ignored.
“Steve Brine has made a personal commitment to getting this right and the PDA would be pleased to help him deliver on that promise,” said Mark Koziol, chair of the PDA.
“It benefits patient safety and benefits pharmacists to get this issue dealt with fully and properly as soon as possible.
“The need to decriminalise pharmacy has been unresolved for far too long.”