There are no plans to export stronger checks on controlled drug sales from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK, C+D has discovered.
Last week, Northern Ireland's Department of Health (DHSSPSNI) said the conviction of a pharmacist for 12 counts of illegally supplying prescription-only medicines had prompted it to work with national commissioner the Health and Social Care Board to put in place "additional checks”. The checking system - which would be “unique” in the UK - would be likely to involve extra audits around the purchase and supply of commonly abused drugs, it told C+D.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and the General Pharmaceutical Council (GPhC) told C+D this week that they were not aware of any plans to strengthen checks on controlled drugs sales in England, Scotland and Wales.
The RPS believed the “regulation and classification of these drugs is appropriate to protect the public”, spokesperson Neal Patel told C+D yesterday (May 12). There were already criminal penalties in place for individuals trying to sell medicines without a prescription in Great Britain, which “help deter abuse”, he added.
The GPhC, the Home Office, the Department of Health, NHS England and the MHRA all denied responsibility for introducing any additional controlled drugs checks for pharmacies, and claimed it would be the remit of one of the other organisations.
NHSSPSNI told C+D last week that it was already at an “advanced stage of planning” for introducing additional checks.
It had decided to implement the checks in response to the case of Maurice Currie, 46, of Portmore Road, Lisburn. Mr Currie (Pharmaceutical Society Northern Ireland registration number 2674) was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment last month for illegally supplying 875,000 tablets - including diazepam, tramadol and co-codamol - while working at a pharmacy in Armagh between 2009 and 2013.
Mr Currie’s actions came to light following an investigation by the DHSSPSNI's Medicines Regulatory Group (MRG). Peter Moore, the officer in charge of the investigation, said last week that it was “the most serious diversion of medicines by a professional that the MRG has investigated”.