Time to embrace controlled drug technology


Recently someone asked me what the next ‘big thing’ was going to be in community pharmacy.


And the simple answer is technology.


If there is one thing we have all come to embrace during this pandemic, it is the fact that we all must utilise technology more in our everyday lives.


How does this affect the workflow in a busy high street pharmacy?


One thing which strikes me is how busy community pharmacy is now, delivering the Covid-19 vaccine, dispensing, checking prescriptions and all the other services offered directly to the patient without the need to see a GP.


One thing which I know takes up plenty of time in a pharmacy is the dreaded controlled drugs register [CDR]. Traditionally this has been a large ring-bound file, filled with numerous inserts which the pharmacy staff must fill in to record the receipt and dispensing of controlled drugs to the patient.


About a decade ago I came across the first digital CDR, but adoption of this was slow. People do fear any change in their working patterns.


But move forwards a few years and again I came across a new CDR which impressed me greatly.


This new CDR was developed by pharmacists for pharmacists and during the demonstration, I was given looked and felt very professional, easy to use and importantly was designed very much with patient safety at its heart.


Can you imagine recording all your banking transactions every day in a physical ledger, or your pharmacy accounts?


If you are still using one of the old paper registers, this is what you are doing. You wouldn’t dream of going through all that effort if there was a suitable semi-automated way of doing it, would you?


The old-fashioned CD registers are difficult enough to manage and are an archaic solution to a problem that digital, secure online registers do so much better. How many times have you had to go back through your paper registers looking for an error in inputting stock or to find out why there is a discrepancy between the running balance in the register and the actual stock in the CD Cabinet?


A digital CDR will save your pharmacy time and therefore money and at the end of the day, it is all about maximising patient safety.


We are now fully entrenched in the digital online world, and for me, pharmacy needs to embrace the new technology out there. An internet search will reveal several digital CDR software solutions, a pharmacy should choose the one they feel is best for their business needs.


And one caveat from me. The cheapest is not always the best. Go for the solution that provides the best customer service, best functionality and then look at the cost.


This article was written by Greg Bull founder of the Dispensing Doctor Experts. You can contact Greg by clicking here.


Legislation allows controlled drugs supply without prescription


The Government has passed legislation which allows pharmacists to provide controlled drugs to patients who have previously been prescribed them, without the need for a new prescription.


The legislation enables patients to continue to receive access to the medicines they need directly from a pharmacist, under exceptional circumstances. These include the closure of GP practices or other services in an area because of COVID-19, and where the patient’s health is at risk. To maintain treatment and reduce harm, it also allows pharmacists to vary in the interval between each time the medicine can be supplied, after consultation with the prescribing service.


The legislation can only be activated by an announcement from the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care. It will only apply in a specific location and for a limited time. Once the issue triggering the announcement is resolved, the new measures will be withdrawn and the usual practice will apply.


RPS President Sandra Gidley said:


“We welcome this legislation to maintain patient access to treatment when the usual means of prescribing and accessing it are unavailable. This will bring relief to patients needing ongoing treatment for palliative care or substance misuse therapy.


“The flexibilities the legislation provides empowers pharmacists to provide the right care for patients during the pandemic.


“We are continuing to talk to the Government and the NHS about how frontline pharmacists are playing a critical role supporting patients and vulnerable groups during COVID-19.


“Now the legislation has been published, we will shortly provide professional guidance for pharmacists who may need to supply controlled drugs under the new measures.”