Sale Of Poisons; Scheduled Poisons
The sale of poisons is regulated by various Acts, but chiefly by the
Pharmacy Act, 1868, and by the Poisons and Pharmacy Act, 1908. Only
registered medical practitioners and legally qualified druggists are
permitted to dispense and sell scheduled poisons. They are responsible
for any errors which may be committed in the sale of poisons. If a
druggist knows that a drug in a prescription is to be used for an
ose, he may refuse to dispense it. The practitioner who
carelessly prescribes a drug in a poisonous dose is not held
responsible, but the dispenser would be if he dispensed it and harmful
or fatal consequences followed on its being swallowed. When a dispenser
finds an error in a prescription, it is his duty to communicate with the
prescriber privately pointing out the mistake.
A great responsibility rests on the medical man who does his own
dispensing, as there is no one to check his work.
If a doctor prescribes a drug with the intention of curing or preventing
a disease, but that, contrary to expectation and general experience, it
causes illness or even death, no responsibility can rest with the
prescriber. It has to be proved that actual injury has been sustained by
the complainant before an action for damages can be commenced, and that
the plaintiff was free from all contributory negligence.
=Scheduled Poisons.=--By the Pharmacy Act of 1868 two groups of poisons
are scheduled. Part I. contains a list of those which are considered
very active poisons--e.g., arsenic, alkaloids, belladonna,
cantharides, coca (if containing more than 1 per cent. alkaloids),
corrosive sublimate, diachylon, cyanides, tartar emetic, ergot, nux
vomica, laudanum, opium, savin, picrotoxin, veronal and all poisonous
urethanes, prussic acid, vermin killers, etc. Such poisons must not be
sold to strangers, but only to persons known to or introduced by someone
known to the druggist. If sold, the latter must enter into the 'Poison
Register' the name of the poison, the name of the person to whom it is
sold, the quantity and purpose for which it is to be used, and date of
sale. The entry must be signed by the purchaser and by the introducer.
The word 'Poison' must be affixed to the bottle or package, and also
the name and address of the seller.
Part II. contains a list of poisons supposed to be less active. These
may only be sold if on the bottle, box, or package there is affixed a
label with the name of the article, the word 'Poison,' and the name and
address of the seller. It is not necessary to enter the transaction in a
Chemists are required to keep poisons in specially distinguishable
bottles, and these in a special room or locked cupboard.
=Dangerous Drugs Act, 1920.=--The regulations restrict the manufacture
and sale of opium, morphine, cocaine, and heroin so as to prevent their
abuse. Preparations containing less than 1/5 per cent. of the first two
or less than 1/10 per cent. of the last two are excluded. Prescriptions
containing the above drugs must be dated and signed with the full name
and address of the prescriber, and must have also those of the patient.
The total amount of the drug to be supplied must be stated, and it must
not be dispensed more than once; the dispenser retains the prescription.
Special books must be kept recording the purchase and sale of these
=Proprietary Medicines Bill= (introduced in 1920, and likely soon to
become law).--The sale of any unregistered proprietary medicine
purporting to cure certain diseases or produce abortion is made an
offence. A register of proprietary medicines, etc., is established. The
object is to protect the public against quack remedies.
=Notification of Poisoning.=--Every case of poisoning which occurs in
any industry (lead, arsenic, anthrax, etc.) must be notified by the
medical attendant to the Chief Inspector of Factories (Factory and
Workshops Act, 1895).