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Prevent drug diversions

February 24, 2009

A recent rash of forgery reports reminded us of a Health Canada suggestion that bears repeating.

The forgery reports disclosed that large quantities of narcotics had been dispensed. In a Health Canada lecture on preventing drug diversion, one point covered in some detail was to determine the authenticity of the prescription, regardless of how well the patient was known to the pharmacist and staff.

If you have suspicions about a prescription, consider this precautionary measure. Dispense only enough medication to allow the patient to get through a day so that you could then contact the prescriber before filling the balance. While it may require more effort up front, it could save a lot of grief for you, your pharmacy, and the health system in the end.

For more details on pharmacists’ duties before dispensing a drug, including factors to consider when determining authenticity, see Standard 5 of the Standards for Pharmacist Practice. 

Originally published in the February 24, 2009, issue of The Link