The Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit (PRU) is now publishing on the NSW Ministry of Health website prescriber details whose prescriptions/prescription stationery is reported to have been lost, stolen or forged, as a result of an increase in detected forged prescriptions.
The PRU reports that large numbers of forged prescriptions for Schedule 8 drugs, such as high strength oxycodone and alprazolam tablets, and fentanyl transdermal patches, have been presented and dispensed at some pharmacies. This is of serious concern because of the risks associated with the abuse of these products, which may cause overdose or death.
Why you should report
As a medical practitioner you are not required to report lost, stolen or forged prescriptions/stationery to NSW Health (under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966), however the Medical Council strongly encourages you to do so. Note that if presented with a forged prescription for a Schedule 4 or Schedule 8 drugs, a pharmacist must retain the prescription and report the incident to NSW Police.
By reporting you can help protect the public from the illegal trafficking of drugs of addiction such as alprazolam, fentanyl, and oxycodone.
How to reduce your risk
Keep computer generated prescription stationery and prescription pads away from public access areas to reduce the risk of loss or theft. Practitioners are encouraged to have only one prescription pad and limited stationery (for computer generated prescriptions) in use at any time, and to keep the remainder in a locked cupboard.
- Avoid leaving patients alone in your consulting room
- Don’t leave prescription stationery in places where it is visible or easily accessible (such as car seats, desks or external consult locations).
- Don’t over order prescription pads or prescription stationery.
How to report
To report the loss, theft or forgery of prescriptions or prescription stationery, you need to complete a Notification of Lost, Stolen or Forged Prescription form, available on the NSW Ministry of Health website.
What if S4D restricted substances or Schedule 8 drugs of addiction are stolen?
A medical practitioner must immediately notify PRU (NSW Health) if a prescribed restricted substances (S4D) or drug of addiction (S8) in their possession is lost or stolen. More guidance is available at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/pharmaceutical/Pages/lost-stolen-drugs.aspx.
Looking for more info?
NSW Health has an excellent set of guides online for doctors which cover the legal requirements for handling drugs including prescribing and the supply of drugs of addiction and restricted substances.