COVID-19: Managing requests for emergency supplies from dentists

06 Apr 2020

Community pharmacists can make emergency supplies of prescription-only medicines (POMs) to patients following a request from the patient’s prescriber, including dentists

under Regulation 224 of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012.

The Faculty of General Dental Practice (FGDP) has issued guidance to dentists for remote prescribing during the COVID-19 pandemic:

“Dentists can also offer appropriate prescriptions for analgesics and/or antimicrobials by phone, and are reminded that under the emergency supply provisions of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, pharmacists can supply a medicine on this basis provided the dentist undertakes to provide a physical prescription within 72 hours. Prescribing by phone should comply with the GDC’s principles for good practice in remote consultations and prescribing.”



A key requirement under Regulation 224 is that the pharmacist supplying the POM must be satisfied that the prescriber/dentist has undertaken steps to furnish a prescription to the pharmacy within 72 hours of the sale or supply; this applies to both NHS and private requests. However, during the current COVID-19 pandemic, community pharmacies / NPA members have reported that they are not always able to obtain prescriptions from dentists within 72 hours of making the emergency supplies. Additionally, dentists do not have access to the Electronic Prescription Service (EPS) and so are unable to generate / issue EPS prescriptions for the treatments they need to prescribe. Hence, you may receive more emergency supply request from dentists during the COVID-19 pandemic.


NPA advice / guidance

Patient safety is paramount. Where a pharmacy is unable to obtain a legal prescription within the 72 hours timeframe, the pharmacist should exercise pragmatic professional judgement to decide on the best course of action in the best interest of the patient(s).

  • Communicate with the prescriber/dentist

Where the emergency supply request is received from the prescriber/dentist, but the legal prescription may not be received within 72 hours, you should seek confirmation (in writing where possible, e.g. email) that the prescriber/dentist will supply the prescription as soon as is reasonably practicable.

  • Confirm the prescription

Where the prescription has been issued but may not reach the pharmacy within 72 hours, ask the prescriber/dentist to send a scanned copy/photo/fax of the prescription to the pharmacy as a means of confirming the prescription exists before making the emergency supply. Remember, a scanned copy/photo/fax itself is not a legally valid prescription; however, it will, at least, show that such a prescription does exist and confirm the details of the patient/item. Where possible establish a rough time frame in which you will expect to receive the prescription.

  • Make robust, contemporaneous records

Make relevant records of any supply made under emergency supply regulations, as required, and retain / keep contemporaneous records of all communication with the prescriber/dentist, including any scanned copy/photo/fax of the prescription received.

  • Follow-up

Where the prescription has not been received within the time frame previously discussed with the dentist, follow up with the dentist to ascertain the whereabouts of the prescription; it is important that the original, legal prescription be provided as soon as possible.

  • Complete the process

Once the prescription is received, make a note of the date it is received in the emergency supply record made for the relevant supply.


What can you supply?

Under the NHS, dentists can request emergency supplies of treatment they are usually able to prescribe on NHS prescriptions, and follow up by providing an NHS prescription within 72 hours for the relevant treatment requested.

Private dentists can legally request emergency supplies of any treatment suitable for their patient. However, any treatment requested/prescribed should be within their area of competence (i.e. treatments used in dentistry to treat a dental condition), and follow up by providing a private prescription within 72 hours for the relevant treatment requested.

For further advice or support, please contact the Pharmacy Services Team on 01727891800, or email