The problem of the misuse of prescription drugs has been recognised at national, European and international levels. Through the framework of the National Drugs Strategy 2009-2016, the Department of Health is working in collaboration with the relevant statutory agencies to monitor the availability of controlled drugs, including prescription medicines, through illicit channels.
The enforcement of the law relating to the sale of drugs, including prescription drugs, continues to be a priority in the Government’s commitment to tackling the issue of drug misuse in this jurisdiction.
Under the Medicinal Products (Prescription and Control of Supply) Regulations, it is prohibited for a person to supply a prescription medicine except in accordance with a prescription, and the supply must be made from a registered pharmacy by or under the personal supervision of a registered pharmacist. A person who contravenes these Regulations is guilty of an offence. The Regulations also make it illegal for prescription medicines to be supplied by mail order. The definition of mail order includes reference to electronic custom solicitation and order for supply. This includes ordering prescription medicines through internet sites. Furthermore, a person who has in his possession a prescription medicine containing a substance controlled under the Misuse of Drugs legislation for the purpose of selling or otherwise supplying it, is guilty of an offence under that legislation.
My Department is reviewing the Misuse of Drugs Regulations with a view to introducing additional controls on certain prescription drugs being traded illicitly, for example benzodiazepine medicines. These additional controls include introducing import and export controls as well as an offence of possession, thereby assisting the law enforcement roles of Customs and of the Garda Síochána.
My Department is consulting with key stakeholders in relation to the proposed amendments and it is anticipated that new legislation will be introduced by early 2013.