Emergency supply of medication from the pharmacy
Advice for patients

How to get an Emergency Supply of Medication

It’s the weekend and you ran out of your blood pressure or asthma medication. What can you do? Getting an emergency supply of a prescription only medication from the pharmacy is one of the options you may have.

There are certain legal requirements that must be met in order for patients to get an emergency supply of medication from the pharmacy. These are (BNF, N.D.):

  • A pharmacist must interview a patient requesting a supply of prescription only medication
  • The patient is in immediate need of medication and it is unfeasible for the patient to obtain a prescription for this medication
  • The dose of the medication is known
  • The patient has previously been treated with requested medication by UK or EU doctor
  • Requested cannot be made for a controlled drug in Schedule 1,2, or 3 (see exception below)

In an emergency supply situation, a pharmacist should consider the individual circumstances of the request and use their professional judgement to determine whether a supply is made.

Pharmacist should consider the patient’s best interests, however, pharmacists should not be pressured into making an emergency supply by anyone.

Emergency supply of medication: frequently asked questions

Can I get an emergency supply of a controlled drug?

Supply of controlled drugs on an emergency basis from the pharmacy is not allowed. The only exception is the supply of phenobarbital, phenobarbital sodium for patients who use this medication for the treatment of epilepsy.

Emergency supply of Schedule 1, 2 (for example morphine tablets), or 3 drugs (for example tramadol, gabapentin or pregabalin) is not allowed.

Do I need to bring evidence of treatment with medication for which emergency supply is requested?

A pharmacist must be satisfied that a patient requesting a supply of medication has been previously treated with this medication. Bringing an empty box, or repeat slip to the pharmacy at the time of request may help a pharmacist to decide if emergency supply is appropriate.

Additionally and/ or if no evidence is present pharmacist may request to access patient’s Summary Care Records (SCR). SCR is an NHS electronic record of patient information including drug history, created from GP medical record.

What is the maximum quantity of medication patients can obtain trough emergency supply?

  • 30 days of treatment
  • For controlled drugs schedule 4 or 5 and phenobarbital: 5 days

Do I have to pay for the emergency supply in the pharmacy?

Regardless of your age or exemption status, you will most likely be asked to pay for this service, unless other arrangements can be made, for example, pharmacy is likely to receive a prescription to cover medication supplied. This is a similar principle to private prescription pricing. This means patients need to cover the cost of the whole medication plus any emergency supply charges that the pharmacy may have in place.

Some pharmacies offer NHS Urgent Medicine Supply Advanced Service (NUMSAS). All exemptions apply when medication is supplied under NUMSAS. Patients would not be asked to pay for an emergency supply of medication when medication is supplied under NUMSAS if they are exempt from paying for their NHS prescriptions.

Where can I get an emergency supply of medication?

Supply of POM medication on emergency basis can be obtained from any pharmacy which operates under a responsible pharmacist.

How can I find late night pharmacy?

Visit NHS search to find late night pharmacy.

References:

BNF (ND). Emergency supply of prescription only medication. Available at: https://bnf.nice.org.uk/guidance/emergency-supply-of-medicines.html Accessed on 20/05/2019

I am a community pharmacist working in UK. I blog about drugs, health and pharmacy.

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