Prescription requirements for Controlled Drugs

 In Improving Compliance, Regulations and Standards

It is a legal requirement under the Misuse of Drugs Act for prescriptions for controlled drugs (CDs) to contain certain details and it is not possible to dispense CDs if the prescription is not completed properly.

Prescriptions for inpatients must be written on the Ashtons Order Form and the original copy must be sent to Ashtons to comply with legal requirements. If a patient is being given a prescription to get dispensed at a community pharmacy then it MUST be written on a CD Private Prescription Form (FP10PCD England). These are obtained by prescribers from the local NHS commissioner. We strongly recommend that hospitals ensure that their prescribers obtain the private prescription forms because this makes it possible to obtain CDs locally at community pharmacies if required in an emergency.

To aviod delays in obtaining CD supplies, please make sure that ALL the following details are included on CD prescriptions: Patient name, drug name, form, strength, dose, frequency, quantity (in words and figures), and signed and dated by the prescriber.
Examples of prescription writing problems for controlled drugs include:

  • The form (eg tablets, capsule, solution, ampoule etc) missing.
  • The dose must be specified precisely eg “one as directed” NOT “as directed”. Please note that “variable dose” is not specific enough.
  • The exact quantity, not number of days, must be stated eg “50 (fifty) ml” NOT “5 (five) days supply”.

Further details on CD prescription requirements are in the BNF.

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