All prescription drugs dispensed in the Irish Prison Service are prescribed as appropriate by the clinician, following clinical assessment, and the responsibility for prescribing lies with the medical practitioner/dentist. To ensure the safe, appropriate and cost-effective use of medication, the Irish Prison Service Drug and Therapeutics Committee reviews current medication policies and develops new up-to-date guidance and policies on the use of prescribed medication in the Irish Prison Service. The recently revised Irish Prison Service Drug Treatment Clinical Policy includes policies and guidance on the use of prescription drugs in the treatment of addiction and related conditions.
All Irish Prison Service policies are prepared with reference to published national and international expert guidance and advice, including, inter alia, advice from the Department of Health and Children, the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland, the Irish Medicines Board, the National Medicines Information Centre, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, The Cochrane Library and the British National Formulary.
The prescribing of benzodiazepines in the Irish Prison Service is limited to situations where the use of such medication is deemed clinically necessary, for short term treatment of specific conditions, as per national guidelines (Ref Benzodiazepines: Good Practice Guidelines for Clinicians, DoHC 2002). As the requirement for benzodiazepines varies according to the clinical needs of an ever-changing prison population, it is not possible to give an exact number of patients in prison currently prescribed benzodiazepines.
The Irish Prison Service aims to provide a level of healthcare equivalent to that available to those entitled to General Medical Services in the community. Therefore all medicines available in the community via the community drugs schemes are available, as prescribed, to patients in prison. In addition, all specialist, hospital only prescriptions (such as medication for the treatment of Hepatitis C or Human Immunodeficiency Virus), are available and supplied as clinically indicated to patients in prison.