The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has renewed it demand for pharmacists to be allowed to make minor changes to a prescription when a medicine is out of stock.

The RPS, alongside GP and community pharmacy leaders, met with government officials on Wednesday (Dec 2) to discuss a proposal to amend medicines legislation which will enable community pharmacists to provide a different quantity, strength, formulation or generic version of the same medicine on a prescription, if it is in short supply.

At present, community pharmacists are legally obliged to contact prescribers, or refer patients back to prescribers, to amend prescriptions for minor adjustments.

The Society stresses that the proposal does not involve changes to treatment for patients and adds that pharmacists working in hospitals and general practice have already been allowed to make these changes, dispensing an alternative without the patient having to go back to their prescriber first.

“Pharmacists are experts in medicines and the law needs to change so they can more easily help patients get the medicines they need. This would improve patient experience, use pharmacists’ expertise, and save time for GPs,” RPS president Sandra Gidley said.

The meeting follows a joint letter to health secretary Matt Hancock in September, signed by RPS, along with the the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee, Community Pharmacy Scotland, Community Pharmacy Wales, British Medical Association, Royal College of GPs and National Voices.

“Every day we see the impact of medicines shortages, which are taking up more and more time for pharmacists. Covid-19 has shown the importance of pharmacists being empowered and supported to do the right thing for patients,” Gidley added in her statement.

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