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Medicines regulation and law

Brexit delaying new legislation on dispensing errors, health minister says

The health minister Steve Brine has said that a focus on Brexit legislation means that parliament has been “unable to consider” new legislation on dispensing errors.

On 26 February 2019, Sir Kevin Barron, chair of the All-Party Pharmacy Group, wrote to Brine saying that the legislation, which will extend defences for inadvertent prescribing errors to pharmacists in hospitals and other settings, was “drafted and ready to lay” and urging the government not to allow Brexit to delay it further.

But Brine replied, saying that parliamentary time and government legal departments were focused on legislation relating to the UK’s departure from the EU, and consequently proposed amendments to the draft legislation had not been considered “as quickly as hoped”.

He also said that there was “a further complication” in that some elements of the dispensing errors legislation related to parallel legislation clarifying the roles of Responsible Pharmacists and superintendent pharmacists. There were more than 600 responses to a consulation on these proposals and, as a result, some minor changes were made by the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board.

“The department is consequently not in a position to lay the draft order before the drafting amendments have been considered and agreed,” he wrote. 

“It is my intention to see the draft order brought before parliament as quickly as possible. The increased reporting of errors can only be good for patients”.

The draft legislation, which was approved by the Rebalancing Medicines Legislation and Pharmacy Regulation Programme Board Partners’ Forum in February 2019, was the subject of a consultation in 2018 that received 632 responses.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206312

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