Exclusive: New hope for decriminalisation of dispensing errors

By News team

Decriminalisation of single dispensing errors has come a step closer with the tabling of an amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently at the committee in the House of Lords.

Lord Clement-Jones, who tabled the amendment, has been working closely with the SalvaDore to change the law following the disappointing announcement last month that the 1968 Medicines Act itself cannot be repealed without primary legislative changes.

The proposed amendment, which was made public this morning (30 November 2011), would see a statement inserted into relevant sections of the to the effect that the offences of supplying a medicinal product: without a prescription (Section 58); that is not of the standard required (Section 64); or with a misleading label (Section 85) would not apply to genuine and unintended dispensing errors.

Charles Willis, head of public affairs at the Society, told PJ Online: “The outcome of the due diligence clause [see Panel] is that those who make a dispensing error will be presumed innocent of a crime, as opposed to the current situation.”

The amendment will be discussed at several stages as the Bill continues its passage through Parliament, and can be thrown out at any of those stages. The Society says it will maintain pressure on MPs and peers to support the amendment.

RPS President Martin Astbury said: “This is not an easy route and there is an arduous legislative process ahead. We will ask our colleagues in other pharmacy organisations to work with us to ensure Government and Parliamentarians hear a united voice from the profession on this issue.

“Importantly, the amendment will still give patients every protection they need from deliberate act or wilful negligence as well as contributing to increased safety within pharmacy.”

Proposed amendment to the Health Bill

The proposed amendment to the Health Bill would mean that subsectionsof the 1968 Medicines Act under which pharmacists can currently be prosecutedfor a dispensing error would not apply if the mistake was unintended.

The subsections would not apply: “To the sale or supply of a medicinal product by aperson lawfully conducting retail pharmacy business where the sale or supply isin accordance with a prescription and that person selling or supplying theproduct, having exercised all due diligence, believes on reasonable groundsthat those requirements have been fulfilled.”

See also:

Decriminalisation proposal could force Government to address the issue

Background to decriminalisation development

Citation: The Salvadore URI: 11090387

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