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A Medical Yankee In King Charles’s Pharmacy

, , , , , , , , | Healthy | CREDIT: marshtheman93 | May 24, 2023

I am a community pharmacist in the UK for a chain. As most people will be aware, the UK has certain rules and regulations, especially when it comes to controlled drugs.

An American tourist comes into my shop one day, goes up to the cashier, and asks to speak with the pharmacist. He’s directed to me.

Tourist: “Do you have [controlled drug] in stock?”

Me: *Politely* “I’m sorry, but I can’t give you that without a valid prescription.”

Tourist: “Why not? It’s not a controlled drug.”

Me: “Well, it is over here.”

Tourist: “Listen, I’m a practicing doctor. I’ve been in this job for thirty years. So, would you please go into the back and get me what I came for?”

Me: “Look, I understand you may be a doctor in your own country, but I still can’t give you [drug] without a valid prescription.”

The guy stamps his foot and grunts. He then proceeds to pull out a prescription pad from his backpack and starts writing. Yes, this is no joke. This guy actually brings his prescription pad from his surgery on holiday with him. I honestly find it hard not to laugh. He slaps the prescription down on the counter.

Tourist: “There. That’s the prescription, I’m the prescribing doctor.”

He then proceeds to pull out his licence. I take one look at it and tell him:

Me: “This has no standing here. That is a prescription from a clinic in America. You will need a valid one from a general practitioner in the UK.”

Tourist: “Oh, for God’s sake, this is ridiculous. I’m a doctor. You can see that.”

Me: “You may be a doctor. I’m not denying that. I’m just telling you that I cannot accept this prescription legally.”

Tourist: “Why are you doing this?”

Me: “Because I could lose my job for prescribing a controlled drug without a valid prescription. If you can get a valid prescription from a GP over here, I’d be—”

Tourist: “What’s your name?”

I give him my name.

Tourist: “Right. You listen to me. You prescribe me the medication, or I will ensure that you lose your job.”

Again, I try not to laugh.

Me: “Sir, you can complain to the GPC [General Pharmaceutical Council] about me all you like. I’ll even give you the number of my company’s head office. But they will tell you the exact same thing I have repeatedly told you. You need a valid prescription from a UK GP. I am not prepared to break the law.”

He took a business card for our head office and storms out. Later that week, the other pharmacy in town told me that the man also went into their shop that same day and handed over his prescription, and he was also refused, making similar threats.

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