The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain is insisting that current discrepancies between prescribing powers for nurses and pharmacists regarding controlled medicines be ironed out.

The Society has taken issue with the fact that specially trained nurses are able to independently prescribe controlled drugs under certain conditions while their pharmacist counterparts are not allowed to do so, “even when the medicine in question is a controlled drug which they can sell as ingredients in over the counter medicines”.

Therefore, the Society has this week called on the PM to introduce changes to current legislation that would create parity between nurses and pharmacists in the independent prescribing of controlled drugs - such as methadone and other opiates - which, it claims, would bring “enormous benefits” not only to patients and carers but also to the primary care team.

Explaining the RPSGB’s argument, its Director for England Howard Duff said: “Allowing pharmacist independent prescribers the ability to prescribe controlled drugs will expand access to important medicines which improve quality of life by helping manage chronic conditions.”

Vital role
Furthermore, he added: “At a time when pressure on the primary care team is increasing day by day, we see this extension of the pharmacists’ role as vital in its ability to further support community based medicine, [which] is especially true for pharmacists working within palliative care teams and hospices, where they provide expertise in medicines but cannot prescribe many useful treatments”.

Consequently, in its submission of evidence to the PM’s Commission on the Future of Nursing and Midwifery the Society the Society has also called for changes that would enable both nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers to write scripts for “an unrestricted range of controlled drugs for patients in their care”.