Dispensing from a Faxed Prescription

Tariff Tips

Dispensing from a Faxed Prescription

Q: I have received a faxed prescription for ‘Levothyroxine 100mcg tablets x 28’ -  am I ok to dispense it?

A:  Faxed copies of prescriptions are not legally valid documents.

A faxed copy of a prescription is not a legally valid document under the Human Medicines Regulations because it has not been signed by an appropriate prescriber in indelible ink.1

There are a number of issues to consider if dispensing from a fax copy:

  • Has the fax been sent from a doctor’s surgery?
  • Can you be certain it has not been reproduced and/or sent to other pharmacies?
  • Poor reproduction of the original could lead to a dispensing error.
  • The original prescription may not be genuine.
  • You may never receive the original prescription.
  • The prescriber may have changed the original prescription since the fax was sent.

So, an electronic prescription would be a better alternative than sending a fax in this instance. Electronic prescriptions have a legally valid, secure, electronic signature.

However, a faxed prescription could be used as an Emergency Supply at the request of the prescriber.  The emergency supply must meet the following conditions:

  • You are satisfied that it is from a registered prescriber
  • The prescriber agrees to supply the original paper prescription to you within 72 hours (note that it is the prescriber’s legal responsibility to supply within 72 hours)
  • The prescription is not for a Schedule 1, 2, or 3 controlled drug with the exception of phenobarbital for epilepsy
  • An entry must be made in the prescription register, to include:Name and quantity of medicine supplied (including strength and form where appropriate)
  • Name and address of the prescriber who requests the emergency supply
  • Name and address of patient
  • The date written on the prescription (once received)
  • The date when the prescription is actually received

1 Medicines, Ethics and Practice: The professional guide for pharmacists; Edition 38; July 2014 page 33; The Royal Pharmaceutical Society

If you have any questions about this particular tip or any other drug tariff query you can call Information Services on 0800 783 5709.

Tariff Tip written by Sue Swift, UK Drug Tariff and Information Technician

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