More than 50 drug policy, public health and harm reduction experts have signed an open letter urging the UK Home Secretary to trigger legislation that is contained in the recently amended Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

8 May 2020

The Home Secretary has this week amended the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, providing Ministers with emergency powers concerning the supply of controlled drugs such as morphine in specified circumstances during a pandemic. 


Ministers now have the option to trigger additional flexibilities during the covid-19 pandemic, such as allowing pharmacies to supply controlled medication without a prescription. Also, to allow supply of alternative medications should there be a shortage of a drug, this permits on-going treatment with alternative products where prescribed items are unavailable or are in short supply. The legislation also allows pharmacists without prescribing rights to change the frequency of instalments on prescriptions without the need for a new prescription from the prescriber.  

We welcome the Home Secretary’s move last week to lay before parliament legislation which would allow some loosening of the regulations for controlled drugs. Given the urgency with which prescribers and pharmacists need to provide pain control and reduce severe breathing difficulty for patients with covid-19 this legislation needs to be enacted urgently. 

We call on the Home Secretary to trigger the useful actions contained in the legislation without delay as this will benefit health care staff and most importantly patients. 


Dr Yasir Abbasi – Maudsley Health

Professor John Ashton – former president of the UK Public Health Association

Dr Rachel Britton – Director of Pharmacy, We Are With You

Professor Julia Buxton – Central European University

Dr Patricia Cantley – NHS Consultant, Edinburgh

Anna Codrea-Rado – Journalist, London

Professor Nicky Cullum – University of Manchester

Chris Daw QC – Serjeants’ Inn, London

Paul Delaney – coAim, Wexford.

Dr Suzanne Gage – University of Liverpool

Dr Matthew Gaskell – Consultant Psychologist, Leeds

Professor Simon Gilbody – University of York

Dr Judith Yates – International Doctors for Healthier Drug Policies

....and many others who can be seen on the original article on Talking Drugs

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