New prescribing guidance from GMC

DOCTORS face tighter rules on self-prescribing and a ban on prescribing performance-enhancing drugs to athletes under new guidance issued by the General Medical Council.

Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices strengthens and broadens current advice to include medical devices and gives key updates on the use of unlicensed medicines.

Under the updated rules, doctors are told they “must not” prescribe for themselves or their families unless it is an emergency where lives or health are at serious risk. Doctors who do prescribe in this way must make a clear record of it and tell their own or the patient’s GP (unless they object).

The guidance forbids practitioners from prescribing performance-enhancing drugs or treatments to athletes. Any doctor who suspects an athlete’s performance is “improperly enhanced” is urged to “raise concerns in the public interest”.

The GMC also maintains its stance that licensed medicines should usually be prescribed “in accordance with the terms of their licence” but allows medicines to be prescribed outside their licence “when it is necessary to do so to meet the specific needs of the patient.”

The updated advice, which came into effect on February 25, incorporates a ban on the remote prescribing of injectable cosmetics such as Botox that came into effect last July. It also reminds doctors they must report any adverse incidents involving drugs or medical devices such as X-ray and other imaging equipment, pacemakers, artificial joints and anaesthetic equipment.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: “This new guidance tightens the current rules on prescribing and addresses the challenges doctors face in this complex area.”

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Good practice in prescribing and managing medicines and devices