Health Minister steps up security in pharmacies

Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Bairbre de Brún, has announced funding for a new package of safety measures designed to improve the security of pharmacies in Northern Ireland.

Making the announcement on Thursday Ms de Brún said she was providing money to ensure medicines liable to abuse would be stored in safes with special locks, which cannot be overridden by staff members.

The news comes in the wake of two incidents in as many days.

Bairds chemist at Market Lane in Lisburn was targeted and robbed by a man in his mid 20s on Wednesday afternoon. Brandishing a knife he demanded to speak to the pharmacist and given a large quantity of diazepam. Around 460 tablets were taken in all.

Meanwhile on Tuesday night police issued a warning after a quantity of potentially dangerous prescription drugs were stolen during a burglary in the town. The drugs taken included Diazepam, Epilim, Olanzapine (also known as Zyprexa), Procyclidine (also known as Kemadrin) and Paracetemol.

Speaking about the initiative Ms de Brún said: “I am confident that the new security measures put in place will go a long way to deterring the criminal element from these robberies.

“Pharmacies provide a front line service to the local community and it is essential that patients have access, especially when they are in need of vital medication. Pharmacists and their staff who deliver this essential service must also be allowed to work free from the fear of attack.”

Misuse of Drugs Inspector, Dr Michael Mawhinney said: “I would hope that the introduction of these measures will contribute significantly to a more secure environment for pharmacists and to a substantial reduction in the quantity of prescription medicines being diverted for illegal use on the streets.”

Chairman of the Pharmaceutical Contractors Committee, Frank Murray and President of the Ulster Chemists Association, Siobhan O’Reilly said they both warmly welcomed the initiative.


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