Drug regulation changes in Ireland come into effect today

An amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act comes into effect today, with drugs including Benzodiazepines and Z-Drugs (sleepers) now subject to the same restrictions as other controlled drugs.

The amendment was signed by Minister of State for Communities and the National Drug Strategy, Catherine Byrne on Tuesday.

Pills stock

The new regulations make changes to the essential criteria to be included on prescriptions for all controlled drugs in order to aid the identification of the prescriber, the patient and the controlled drug to be supplied.

Listed on the Department of Health website, the changes include the prescriber having to put their first name on the prescription, the inclusion of the prescriber’s registration number on the prescription, and a requirement for the patient’s first name to be on the prescription.

According to the Department of Health, “the main purpose of the amendment is to protect public health by bringing certain substances which are open to misuse, and known to be traded on the illicit market, under the scope of the Misuse of Drugs legislation, thereby aiding the law enforcement activities of An Garda Síochána”.

Prescriptions issued on or after 4 May 2017 (today) must comply with the new prescription requirements.

Speaking to Echo.ie today about the changes, Tallaght Labour Party councillor Mick Duff, who is the co-ordinator of the Community Drug Project in St Aengus, said: “We would welcome anything that controls the availability of prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines.

“Benzodiazepines and sleeping tablets are seen as acceptable in some communities and contribute greatly to the polydrug culture here in Tallaght… and pose a serious risk when mixed on top of alcohol, heroin or cocaine.”

He added: “These drugs are imported through the internet and by drug gangs and there is no guarantee that what’s being sold on the street is what it says on the tin.

“There are people who are also linked into multiple GPs and getting multiple prescriptions and these drugs are finding their way into Tallaght communities.

“This should not be happening. We need to see the tightening of prescriptions and the introduction of traceable prescriptions and pharmacists should be linking in with GPs.

“I also don’t see any burden to a person if a pharmacist asks to see photo ID when collecting prescription drugs such as benzodiazepines.”

For a full list of the new Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2017 click HERE 

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