BEWARE – SCAMS TO OBTAIN SCHEDULE 8 DRUGS VIA TELEPHONED ORDERS
The NSW Ministry of Health has received several confirmed reports of pharmacists being targeted to obtain Schedule 8 drugs fraudulently.
Pharmacists are receiving telephone calls from persons presenting as medical practitioners requesting the supply of nominated Schedule 8 drugs to a person who requires them under emergency circumstances. The ‘prescriber’ promises to immediately send the corresponding prescriptions to the pharmacy. Within a short time a person attends the pharmacy to collect the ordered drugs, but the promised prescriptions are never received by the pharmacy.
Common features of the fraud include:
- Schedule 8 drugs requested often include fentanyl patches, oxycodone or alprazolam tablets
- Requests may also be made for Schedule 4 benzodiazepines
- The prescriber’s name may or may not be familiar to the pharmacist
- Telephone numbers given are usually mobile numbers or fictitious fixed line numbers
- Prescriptions may be requested as “private” or PBS prescriptions
- The patient or prescriber may claim to be travelling, has been affected by bushfire and the patient is in urgent need of medications
WHAT TO DO
- Pharmacists are advised to take extreme care to verify the legitimacy of a telephone order for Schedule 8 or Schedule 4, Appendix-D medicines, by calling the purported prescriber back using an independently sourced telephone number and making independent enquiries to double check the details of the prescriber in such circumstances, for example to verify the name and address of the practice.
- As most mobile telephones have a feature that allows an image to be taken of the prescription, pharmacists should request such an image to be sent to them via email or as a text message, to further enable them to verify the prescriber and that a prescription exists.
- If unable to verify the legitimacy of the telephone order, then a quantity sufficient for no more than 2 days’ treatment should be supplied until a written signed hardcopy prescription is obtained.
- If confirmed that a presented prescription has been fraudulently produced, the prescription should not be dispensed and, if possible, retained to be provided to police.
- A pharmacist in receipt of an attempt to obtain drugs by fraudulent means should immediately report this to NSW Police and obtain a NSW Police Event Number.
- Reports of forged prescriptions should also be notified to the Pharmaceutical Regulatory Unit using the link below.
For any clarification, please contact the PRU Duty Pharmaceutical Officer on (02) 9391 9944 or email: MOH-PharmaceuticalServices@health.nsw.gov.au.