From 1 January 2021, a prescription issued in an EEA member state (EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) or Switzerland can be dispensed in the UK if the prescriber is from a profession recognised by this guidance that is legally entitled to issue a prescription of that kind in the country in which the prescription is issued.
Actions for pharmacists
If you are asked to dispense an EEA or Swiss prescription, you should:
identify the prescriber in the same way that you do now. The name, professional qualifications and contact details of the prescriber (including work address, email address and telephone or fax number with the appropriate international prefix) should be clearly stated on the prescription along with the name of the country in which the prescription was issued
refer to the prescribing-approved countries and professions list to check whether:
- the prescription was issued in an approved country
- the prescriber is practising in a profession recognised by the UK in relation to that country
You may contact the competent authority in the country in which the prescription was issued in order to check the registration of the prescriber and whether they are authorised to issue a prescription of that kind in that country.
You may dispense the prescription if it has been issued in an approved country on the list and is signed by a qualified prescriber practising in an approved profession on the list.
If the prescription is from a country or prescriber that is not on the list, you should not dispense the prescription and instead use your professional expertise to help the patient.
This does not affect your right to exercise your professional discretion to refuse to dispense a prescription if any of the following apply:
- it would not ordinarily be dispensed in the UK
- there are doubts over its authenticity
- there are concerns about the clinical appropriateness of the medicine(s) for that patient
- it would cause any issues of health and safety
There is no change to supplying prescription-only medicines in an emergency at the request of the patient. See further information on emergency supply of prescriptions.
Emergency supplies are also possible at the request of a prescriber who is practising in a profession and country recognised by this guidance.
Medicinal products subject to special medical prescription
The rules relating to controlled drugs in the UK have not changed. You must not dispense a controlled drug against an EEA or Swiss prescription.
A controlled drug is a product listed in schedule 1, 2 or 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 or in schedule 1, 2 or 3 to the Misuse of Drugs Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2002.
You also must not dispense specials (unlicensed medicines that are manufactured or procured specifically to meet the special clinical needs of an individual patient) against an EEA or Swiss prescription.
If you are asked to dispense an EEA or Swiss prescription listing a schedule 1 to 3 controlled drug or a special, you should advise the patient about other available treatment(s) or refer them to local health services to get a UK prescription.
There are no changes to reimbursement. You should dispense prescriptions from approved countries and professions as private prescriptions.
Prescribing-approved countries and professions list
Regulation 214(6A) of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 (as amended by the Human Medicines (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019) refers to a list of approved countries and professions for the purpose of the definition of approved country health professional.
Prescriptions issued by a prescriber who is practising in a listed profession in a listed country may be recognised in the UK. These professions and countries are:
- chiropodists or podiatrists
- community nurses
- therapeutic radiographers
- Czech Republic
- Republic of Ireland
- The Netherlands
These lists will be reviewed at least every 3 years from the date that the country or profession was included on the list. The government will communicate any changes in good time so that pharmacists are able to recognise and dispense prescriptions appropriately.