Today, the Government are laying the Misuse of Drugs (Coronavirus) (Amendments Relating to the Supply of Controlled Drugs During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020 (“the 2020 regulations”) in the House.
These regulations enable emergency supply of controlled drugs during a pandemic and will come into force on 30 April 2020.
The instrument amends the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 (“the 2001 regulations”) in order to allow pharmacists at a registered pharmacy business to supply, in a pandemic situation, medicines without a prescription, where the patient has been receiving a schedule 2, 3 or part 1 schedule 4 controlled drug as part of ongoing treatment, and to supply schedule 2, 3 or part 1 schedule 4 controlled drugs under a serious shortage protocol. The amendments also allow pharmacists, in a pandemic situation, to change the intervals on instalment prescriptions for schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs without the immediate need for a new prescription from an authorised prescriber under the 2001 regulations, with the approval of the prescriber or their appointed representative.
The amendments are enabling and would only be used in limited circumstances following an announcement by the Secretary of State and under conditions specified by the health service in the area(s) to which the announcement applies.
On 1 April 2020, I wrote to the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), to set out the proposed measures and to seek its advice. The ACMD provided its advice on 7 April, and this is available at:
I have considered the ACMD advice carefully, consulted with the Department of Health and Social Care, and agreed to all the recommendations. Further explanation of the legislative changes is set out in the explanatory memorandum attached to the 2020 regulations.