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The Irish Pharmacy Union (IPU) recently welcomed new Covid-19 prescription regulations, which were signed into law by Minister for Health Simon Harris. Describing the regulations as a “sensible and necessary development”. IPU Secretary General Mr Darragh O’Loughlin said pharmacists are “working unstintingly at the coalface dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic and these new regulations will streamline the prescribing process, facilitate continuity of care and allow us to continue supporting patients throughout this situation”. 

The Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) (Amendment) Regulations 2020 allow for:

  • The electronic transfer of prescriptions from prescribers to the pharmacy via the HSE’s secure Healthmail system;
  • An increase in the maximum period of validity of a prescription from six months to nine months; and
  • Allowing pharmacists to give 10 days’ supply of medicines in an emergency (previously five days), to extend the range of medicines that can be supplied in an emergency for epilepsy and, for the first time, allow five days’ emergency supply of controlled drugs. 

Mr O’Loughlin said pharmacists have gone above and beyond for their patients since the pandemic outbreak, and these regulations “are an acknowledgement of the professionalism and dedication of pharmacists. Above all, this development is good for Irish patients.” 

He added: “The secure electronic transfer of prescriptions to pharmacies via Healthmail from GPs and hospitals is a very welcome step forward and is something we have been advocating for some time. This will relieve some of the pressures on our GPs, pharmacists and patients in accessing prescriptions, cut down on unnecessary contact and eliminate the need for paper prescriptions. It makes solid, practical sense.”