The British Medical Association (BMA) has criticised a new law that comes into force on Saturday giving pharmacists special dispensing powers to avert a medicines shortage post-Brexit.
The Human Medicines (Amendment) Regulations 2019 will allow pharmacists to dispense a therapeutic or generic equivalent of a medicine without talking to a patient’s GP and dispense a reduced quantity of a medicine or an alternative dosage form.
The pharmacy industry has been broadly supportive of the plans, the National Pharmacy Association insisting substitution was “something we and other pharmacy bodies lobbied for and is a sensible contingency.”
The incoming legislation follows a consultation on the proposals which fall under what is known as the ‘serious shortage protocol.’
In its response to the consultation, the BMA expressed serious reservations and said that “in a crisis situation,” pharmacists should only be allowed to amend a prescription after talking to the prescriber.
“Patients have idiosyncratic responses to drugs within the same class, and the pharmacist will not know what has already been used. This would, effectively, be a new prescription,” the BMA said.
“However, in a crisis situation we would accept a pharmacist amending the prescription only after discussion with the prescriber including information about medicines availability.”
The new legislation comes into force on February 9.
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