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Unsafe Irish pharmacies: Watchdog finds mould, and medicines stored in toilet


Cheaper alternatives are now available to people buying prescription medicine

Cheaper alternatives are now available to people buying prescription medicine

Cheaper alternatives are now available to people buying prescription medicine

Pharmacies are putting patients at risk by failing to properly store medicines and with poor record-keeping.

Mould growing in storage rooms, drugs kept at the wrong temperature and lack of staff training were among a range of problems found by the Pharmaceutical Society of Ireland (PSI).

The regulator also found some pharmacists were removing medicines from their original packaging and not labelling them properly, which increased the risk of error.

In one case these had no batch number or expiry date.

Documents obtained by the Irish Independent reveal a litany of problems, including:

l One storeroom was cold with no heating.

l A patient consultation area had no blind to ensure privacy.

l A fridge containing medicines was dirty with a "mould-like stain".

l Plastic bottles, vials of medicine and pharmacy bags were stored in a toilet.

l A pharmacist was storing medicines in a room also used for food preparation.

The downstairs toilet was used to store the medicinal waste bin and the upstairs toilet was not clean.

l A prescription recorded as being dispensed in February 2014 was written in June 2013.

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Other pharmacies were found not to be monitoring fridge temperatures on a daily basis which is necessary to ensure medicines do not lose their strength. In one private patient consultation area, 25 boxes of nappies and baby wipes were stored.

The area had one chair which was missing two leg ends, making it unstable, the reports released under the Freedom of Information Act showed.

A spokesman for the regulator said inspections examine key areas such as cleanliness of the storeroom and dispensary, temperature control and the state of equipment.

Inspectors will also check training records for staff, maintenance of incident logs and duty rosters.

Last year the inspections revealed that just 64pc had well-maintained storerooms. The pharmacy fridge was at the correct temperature in only 66pc of cases.

The fridge was clean in 92pc of premises and the dispensaries met standards 80pc of the time. Just 62pc were keeping logs of errors.

The PSI is now using 'mystery shopper' type surveillance for inspections.

"Typically these surveillance visits are to check for important key requirements which might indicate a significant risk to patient safety, such as a pharmacist not being present in a pharmacy if it is open," said a spokesperson.

In 2013 a total of 482 pharmacy inspections were undertaken but in the past year it is anticipated that every registered pharmacy in the State will have been inspected at least once."

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