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Change to law allows nurses and pharmacists to prescribe unlicensed medications

By Lilian Anekwe

Nurses and pharmacists can now prescribe drugs outside their licensed indications and even unlicensed medications after new legislation came into force this month.

From 1 January, nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers can prescribe patients medicines ‘for use outside of their licensed indications'.

The law also now permits them to prescribe ‘unlicensed medicines for their patients, on the same basis as doctors'.

The changes come after a consultation by the UK drugs regulator the Medicines and Healthcare Products Agency (MHRA), which took place last year.

A working group appointed by the MHRA's commission on human medicines recommended that ‘it was a logical step to allow nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers to prescribe unlicensed medicines for their patients on the same basis as doctors and supplementary prescribers.'

The commission fully endorsed the working group's recommendations, and subsequently the Home Office and the Advisory Council for the Misuse of Drugs amended the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The law does caution that independent prescribers ‘must accept clinical and legal responsibility for prescribing, and should only prescribe off-licence where it is accepted clinical practice.'

Nurse and pharmacist independent prescribers can now prescribe off-label

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