Objective: To explore the reported practice of Australian community pharmacists when dealing with medication supply requests in absence of a valid prescription.
Methods: Self-administered questionnaire was posted to 1490 randomly selected community pharmacies across all Australian states and territories. This sample was estimated to be a 20% of all Australian community pharmacies.
Results: Three hundred eighty five pharmacists participated in the study (response rate achieved was 27.9% (there were 111 undelivered questionnaires). Respondents indicated that they were more likely to provide medications to regular customers without a valid prescription compared to non-regular customers (p<0.0001). However, supply was also influenced by the type of prescription and the medication requested. In the case of type of prescription (Standard, Authority or Private) this relates to the complexity/probability of obtaining a valid prescription from the prescriber at a later date (i.e. supply with an anticipated prescription). Decisions to supply and/or not supply related to medication type were more complex. For some cases, including medication with potential for abuse, the practice and/or the method of supply varied significantly according to age and gender of the pharmacist, and pharmacy location (p<0.05).
Conclusions: Although being a regular customer does not guarantee a supply, results of this study reinforce the importance for patients having a regular pharmacy, where pharmacists were more likely to continue medication supply in cases of patients presenting without a valid prescription. We would suggest, more flexible legislation should be implemented to allow pharmacists to continue supplying of medication when obtaining a prescription is not practical.