EPS and Controlled Drugs

EPS and Controlled Drugs

It is not yet possible to issue an electronic prescription for a drug specified in Schedule 1, 2 or 3 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2005 and prescribers remain free to continue to issue paper prescriptions.

Regulatory and technical background

From 1 July 2015, legislation comes into force allowing Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs to be prescribed and dispensed using the electronic prescription service (EPS) release 2 messages.

EPS release 2 prescriptions for Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs will need to satisfy the usual prescription writing requirements (see below) including the need to express the total quantity in words and figures. In PSNC’s response to the consultation on allowing Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs to be prescribed via EPS we suggested that this requirement should not apply to electronic prescriptions, but the Home Office concluded that the requirement should remain.

The NHS Digital has issued all GP and community pharmacy system suppliers with the technical requirements to implement Controlled Drugs prescribing via EPS. All dispensing systems must be updated and fully deployed across all pharmacy sites, before it is possible to enable the new functionality. This is to avoid the possible risk of a prescriber sending a prescription for a controlled drug to a pharmacy which can’t then dispense it.

The change in legislation to allow CDs to be sent via EPS included the requirement for the quantity in words to be included in the electronic prescription; NHS Digital said in May 2016 that the anticipated timescale for all pharmacy system suppliers to develop this functionality may be as late as December 2018. Due to these extended timescales, a new tactical fix has been developed by NHS Digital which will not require the pharmacy system suppliers to upgrade their systems immediately, instead the fix would rely on the prescribing system suppliers. The tactical fix will be to put the quantity in words into the additional instructions field of the EPS message. A notification has now been submitted to the prescribing suppliers about the need for this fix, and when they are able to make the necessary changes, HSCIC assurance will take place, with the aim to make the functionality available as soon as possible.

Once transmission of CDs becomes possible via EPS R2, PSNC will announce the news on its website and within its newsletters.


Q. Can a prescriber issue an FP10MDA Instalment Dispensing prescription electronically via the Electronic Prescription Service?
In England, only Schedule 2 Controlled Drugs plus Buprenorphine, Buprenorphine/Naloxone (Suboxone) and Diazepam can be prescribed in instalments on Form FP10MDA.
Schedule 2 and 3 Controlled Drugs may be dispensed when prescribed using the Electronic Prescription Service from 1 July 2015 (although technical amendments to prescribing and pharmacy systems are likely to delay the implementation of this change). However, there is currently no equivalent to FP10MDA in the electronic prescription service, so prescribers wanting supplies to be made in instalments will need to continue to use hard copy FP10MDA forms.

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