Prescription Fraud

Prescription fraud is a serious matter. Pharmacists are obliged to notify the police when they encounter a fraudulent prescription. There are many systems in place to try and prevent this. For human doctors, these include government provided prescription pads, specific prescription templates, and minimum required information to be included on those prescriptions. Similarly there are specific requirements for veterinary prescriptions, however the form in which these are made and provided to animal owners varies greatly. Prescriptions can be handwritten on a blank piece of paper, or they may be printed using a Microsoft Word template or template from the VPMS. There is a requirement that these prescriptions are hand signed and the original is mailed to the pharmacy. The reason for this is to ensure that a duplicate prescription has not been made. As you could imagine, if a person wanted to duplicate a paper prescription, there are not many challenges that they face in doing so. Pharmacists tell us that this is an issue that they face not uncommonly. Usually these cases are picked up before the script is dispensed, however it is difficult to know how many fraudulent prescriptions slip through the checks. Therefore reducing the susceptibility of prescriptions to fraud is in everyone’s interest. Fortunately, electronic prescriptions and VetRx can solve this once and for all.

VetRx establishes direct communication between the prescriber and the dispenser. This means as soon as the prescription is made, any authorised pharmacy can see that prescription in the animal’s record. Only registered veterinarians are permitted to prescribe in VetRx so the pharmacists have the certainty that this is a legitimate prescription when they see it.

Due to varying state based regulations around veterinary prescriptions, electronic prescriptions are still not an accepted form of prescription in most states of Australia. That means a paper copy is still required. Whilst we’re yet unable to remove the inefficiency that comes with mailing a paper prescription to a pharmacy, we have the capacity for the pharmacists to verify the authenticity of that paper prescription that’s received to ensure that copies aren’t made or that it has been dispensed by multiple parties. When that prescription is dispensed in VetRx, the animal owners, vets and other pharmacists would be able to see the dispensing history over the lifetime of that prescription. It is not possible for that prescription to be dispensed again at another pharmacy.

One can think of this system as two factor authentication. One form is the paper and the other form is in the electronic database. We hope that it is only a matter of time before the regulators will approve the electronic prescription as the only form that is needed, as this is a much more secure system than any paper based system could achieve.

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