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Controlled drugs access widened

Nurses and pharmacists are set to get even wider prescribing

access under new proposals to loosen restrictions over controlled drugs.

Pharmacist independent prescribers could gain access to controlled drugs for the first time under the proposals, which are set to go to public consultation this week.

Several consultation options would also see nurse independent prescribers receive an extension in their current power to prescribe 12 specified controlled drugs.

The extension in powers would fall under patient group directions. Medicines legislation was amended in May 2006 to expand independent prescribing, but changes on controlled drugs would require amendments to the Home Office's misuse of drugs regulations.

The proposals – to be put

forward by the Home Office and Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency – could go as far as extending access to most controlled drugs, including methadone.

Dr Peter Fellows, chair of the GPC prescribing subcommittee, said he was in favour of independent prescribing, but not 'free range' prescribing of the BNF.

Dr Olly O'Toole, a GP in Dunstable who works with the RCGP on training, said: 'With the more dangerous drugs, nurses who work in the field can be as expert as a doctor, but I feel there should be some doctor supervision.'

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