A number of pharmacists have reported fraudulent scripts for codeine prescriptions being presented at pharmacies in Leeds and Lancaster.

The private prescriptions, copies of which were seen by The Pharmacist, carry the name of a private healthcare clinic in London, Clinica Healthcare.

Pharmacists report fake codeine scripts

A copy of the script.

Clinica Healthcare has confirmed to The Pharmacist that the scripts are fake and said that the phone number on the script had been edited and that the script was not written by the doctor.

Thorrun Govind, chair of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society in England, said that it was important for pharmacists to be alert to drug abuse and escalate it to local teams.

She also said that it was frustrating for pharmacists to have to spend time on issues like fraudulent prescriptions.

‘I just think it's another thing, another bureaucracy that we have to do, which is frustrating. We just want to get on with preparing for patients and we're having people doing things like this,’ she said.

NHS England and local police have been approached for confirmation.

The NHS Counter Fraud Authority describes fraudulent prescriptions as ‘a serious risk to the NHS’, which ‘can cause financial loss to the NHS as well as harm to people who use drugs obtained illegally’.

According to a guidance document for pharmacists in the South West of England, if pharmacists suspect a script to be fake, they should telephone the prescriber using a published number rather than the one on the prescription.

The document also advises pharmacists to call the police on 999 if the person is waiting in the pharmacy or expected to return shortly, or on 101 if the person is expected to return another day. It says that pharmacists should obtain a crime reference number from the police, which they should pass on to their CCG Local Counter Fraud Specialist (LCFS).

The document also contains instructions for escalating the incident to the NHS England alerts team, so that an alert can be circulated in case other prescriptions are presented to other pharmacies.

It also encourages pharmacies to keep a record of any interaction, including notes from telephone conversations, a description of the person, and any CCTV footage.

It also says that any pharmacy which identifies a forged prescription can claim a reward payment from the NHS Business Authority.