Changing the intervals of instalments for controlled drugs during a pandemic 

Changes to controlled drug legislation 1 2 give Ministers in Great Britain and the Department of Health in Northern Ireland the option to switch on additional flexibilities during a pandemic to allow pharmacists to change the intervals of instalments without a new prescription, following agreement with the prescriber or their appointed representative.

These are contingency changes which will only be ‘activated’ by an announcement by a Secretary of State which specifies:

  • When the change comes into effect
  • How long the change is effective for, and
  • The geographical area this change applies to. This could be national, regional or specific to a local area.

Action should be taken only in accordance with national operational guidance which will be issued in each of the home countries before the enabling changes are needed.

This guide has taken into account correspondence between the Home Office and the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and applies across the United Kingdom.


1 The Misuse of Drugs (Coronavirus) (Amendments Relating to the Supply of Controlled Drugs During a Pandemic etc.) Regulations 2020

2 The Misuse of Drugs (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2020 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/nisr/2020/73/contents/made

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