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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

improper pur
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).