2019 saw a significant jump in the number of forged prescriptions reported to ACP—specifically the number of forgeries involving Cotridin—compared to the previous three years.
Following the Standards of Practice for Pharmacists and Pharmacy Technicians can help pharmacy professionals ensure drugs are dispensed only to those with legitimate prescriptions.
Standard 6 states that each time a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician dispenses a Schedule 1 drug or blood product pursuant to a prescription
- the pharmacist must determine that the prescription is appropriate; and
- the pharmacist or the pharmacy technician must determine that the prescription is current, authentic, and complete.
Standard 6.6 states that before dispensing a prescription, a pharmacist or a pharmacy technician must determine the authenticity of the prescription by taking reasonable steps to
- identify the prescriber;
- determine whether the prescriber is legally authorized to prescribe the drug or blood product for which the prescription has been given; and
- assess whether the prescription has been altered, forged, or stolen.
In many cases, pharmacy team members have been able to detect forgeries by noticing easily recognizable alterations, conflicting signatures, and abnormal formatting. Spelling mistakes, odd stories, patient demeanour, a prescription presented on behalf of another adult, and prescriptions presented late at night can also be red flags.
When in doubt, pharmacists should contact the prescriber to confirm the authenticity of a prescription.
If you do confirm a forgery, remember to report it to the police and to ACP via the Forgery Alerts webpage. Those reports are compiled in a downloadable list available on the ACP website. The reports provide the prescriber’s name, the pharmacy involved, details of the forged prescription, and a brief outline of how the pharmacy determined the prescription was forged. Also, make sure you are signed up for the weekly Forgery Alerts email which will help keep you in the loop on recent forgery activity.
If an individual received a drug as a result of a forged prescription, it must be reported as a theft to the Office of Controlled Substances no later than 10 working days after its discovery. To learn more, visit the Health Canada website.