Emergency prescribing – a change for dentists

The General Dental Council (GDC) is welcoming a change in the law that regulates who can and who can’t request an emergency supply of a prescription-only medicine in the UK.

The issue was highlighted in a ‘letter to the editor’ in the April edition of the British Dental Journal.

A practising dentist was asked by a patient to request a prescription of antibiotics from their local pharmacist over the telephone. The dentist was told by the pharmacist that he/she wasn’t allowed to issue a prescription via a telephone request from a dentist under any circumstances.


The GDC contacted the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB) which confirmed its understanding was that dentists have never been legally able to request an emergency supply of medicine.


UK registered dentists were excluded from an amendment made to the relevant legislation in November 2008 (Medicines for Human Use (Prescribing EEA Practitioners) Regulations 2008).


The amendment allowed pharmacists to supply prescriptions (including emergency prescriptions) to EEA and Swiss health professionals engaged in a ‘relevant EU state’.  The definition of ‘relevant EU state’ excludes the UK.


This anomaly prompted the GDC to contact the Department of Health who were told that the legislation was amended in May and is now active in the UK.


This means UK registered dentists can now arrange for the emergency supply of prescription-only medicines.

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