The Department of Health has advised that the Misuse of Drugs Regulations have been updated to allow appropriately qualified nurses and pharmacists to prescribe controlled drugs. The changes came into effect on 23rd April 2012.
Nurses and pharmacists who are qualified Independent Prescribers can now prescribe any controlled drug listed in schedules 2-5 for any medical condition within the bounds of their clinical competence with the exception of diamorpine, cocaine and dipipanone for the treatment of addiction.
In addition, nurses and pharmacists can requisition controlled drugs that they are allowed to prescribe and are authorised to supply or administer these drugs. Persons acting under the direction of a nurse or pharmacist who has prescribed a controlled drug can legally administer that drug.
These changes have also clarified the legal aspects of authorising and administering a mixture of medicines that include controlled drugs, for example via syringe drivers.
Action: Nurses and pharmacists who are independent prescribers should be aware of these changes. Updates to computerised clinical systems may be required to enable prescription printing.