Controlled Drugs Cabinet and Medicine Cabinet Comparison

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Replacement Euro Profile Cylinder Lock

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What is the difference between a Controlled Drug and a Medicine Cabinet?

All our Controlled drugs cabinets and medicine cabinets conform to BS 2881:1989

However there are significant differences between a Controlled Drugs Cabinet and a Medicine Cabinet, listed below:

Pharmacy Medical manufacture a range of controlled drugs cabinets, monitored dosage cabinets & medicine cabinets and here we will do our best to explain the differences between the two types of cabinets.

You can click on the links below to see our ranges of BS 2881:1989 compliant cabinets.

Controlled Drugs Cabinets

Medicine Cabinets


Drug and Medicine cabinets.

There are effectively two different types of drug and medicine cabinet construction, one is used for the storage of Medicines and one for the storage of Controlled drugs. Each type has to conform to a certain standard or combination of standards that determines whether it is a controlled drug or medicine cabinet.

British standard 2881:1989 applies to the Storage of drugs in healthcare premises and is the standard a drug or medicine cabinet (not controlled drug) must comply to within the United Kingdom.

The drug and medicine cabinets covered by this British Standard are intended for the storage of Medicines in Hospital wards, residential homes, and other healthcare premises at ambient temperatures.They can also be used in small animal veterinary practices, general medical practices and medical centres etc.

This standard (BS2881:1989) does not state specifically the method or materials to be used in the manufacture of a drug or medicine cabinet's construction but is essentially an attack criteria. It sets out what is expected of the drug or medicine cabinet and what it is expected to be capable of withstanding if placed under an attack. The drug or medicines stored in these drug or medicine cabinets are considered to be of a lower risk and subsequently are not required to be stored in as secure a cabinet as that required for the storage of Controlled drugs.

Drug and medicine cabinets manufactured to British standard 2881:1989 (level 1) are required to be able to :-

  • Not be removed from the wall by a downward static force of 980Na in the centre of the top face.
  • Not be removed from the wall by a horizontal static force of 590Na in the centre of a side face
  • To withstand an attach from a table knife for a period of 5 min. In an attempt to remove the door or remove the drug and medicine cabinet from the wall.
  • Withstand an attack from a smokers butane filled lighter with no ignition or melting sufficient to form a hole.

At Pharmacy Medical in order for the drug and medicine cabinets we manufacture to comply, we use 1.2mm thick mild steel sheet as the cabinet and door material. The body of the cabinet consists of press formed sides with a press formed top and bottom, plug welded in position. We fabricate the door in a similar way using a press formed construction with a welded stiffener to reinforce the door edge. A seven lever mortice lock, or 6 pin euro cylinder lock are bolted internally to finally secure the door.

The above briefly describes the construction of a drug and medicine cabinet, below we will endeavour to indicate the difference between a Drug and Medicine Cabinet and a Controlled drugs cabinet.


Controlled Drugs Cabinets

A Cabinet used for the storage of Controlled drugs must comply with two regulations, British standard 2881:1989 and the Misuse of Drugs ( safe custody ) regulations 1975. The intention of the latter is to prevent the use of certain Drugs for non-medical purposes . It controls not only Medicinal drugs but also drugs without current medical uses. Drugs subject to this act are known as Controlled drugs and are divided into Class A, Class B and Class C drugs. Offences against this act overwhelmingly involve the general public and carry significantly tougher penalties.

A Controlled Drugs Cabinet differs from a drug and medicine cabinet in several ways. The Misuse of drugs (safe custody) regulations 1975 requires that a cabinet must as well as complying with British standard 2881:1989 (level 1) also contain certain specific features to increase the strength and security of the cabinet.

Some additional features are listed below:-

  • Minimum 1.6mm thick steel sheet used in construction.
  • The clearance between the door and jam must not be greater than 3mm
  • Door lock of at least 5 levers and to have at least 1000 key differs.
  • Two locks must be fitted if the door height exceeds 914mm
  • Internal anchor plates of 3mm thick steel and a surface area of 19355 sq/mm over each wall fixing point.
  • Cabinet must be of fully welded construction.
  • Label fitted to inside of door displaying Manufacturer name and other specific information as detailed in the act.

In conclusion with the inclusion of the above requirements in addition to that required by British standard 2881:1989 a Controlled drugs cabinet is of a significantly more robust design and construction than that of a drug and medicine cabinet.

Click here for more information on The Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1975