Your Pharmacist Can Extend Your 6-month Prescription


According to Health24, prescriptions expiring during the COVID-19 crisis may get extended by dispensing pharmacists, saving patients a trip to their doctor.

In an amendment to the Medicines and Related Substances Act, schedule 2, 3, and 4 drugs will be subject to extensions by dispensing pharmacists for a further 6 months.

The act previously limited the dispensing of the scheduled, prescribed drugs to six months whereafter a new prescription from the prescribing doctor would be required. But with the amendment to the act, section 22A(6)(f), allows for schedule 2, 3 and 4 drugs to be excluded from that requirement.

According to the Government Gazette, this amendment was subject to schedule 2, 3, and 4 drugs not being dispensed “for a period longer than 12 months from the date of issue of a prescription issued by an authorised prescriber”. 

The prescription will be extended “in accordance with the original prescription in order to ensure that therapy is not disrupted, if the person dispensing the prescription is satisfied that an authorised prescriber initiated the therapy with the intention that the therapy be continued”.

The dispensing pharmacist can make a simple phone call to the patient’s doctor, however, if the patient has a history of being on medication, it may not be necessary to call the doctor.

If a chronic patient’s condition is unstable the pharmacist may want to call the doctor to determine if the patient must remain on the prescribed medication.

Once the dispensing pharmacist is comfortable with the extension, the details of the sale must be recorded in a prescription book, or permanent record.

What this means in simple terms is that if you were issued a prescription in January, which expires in June, if the requirements above are met, the pharmacist could extend it for a further 6 months. 

This then meets the 12-month dispensing criteria of the new regulation.

The new regulation is effective immediately and will apply to anybody who was given a 6-month prescription in the last 18 months – again, subject to a 12-month limit.