Medical practitioners and schedule 8 medicines
This page has information for medical practitioners about the prescription and supply of Schedule 8 (S8) substances.
The Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act states that the following applies to medical practitioners:
- authorised prescribers, including doctors, nurse practitioners, eligible midwives, dentists and veterinarians, are prohibited from prescribing a S8 substance to themselves
- pharmacists are only allowed to dispense S8 substances if the prescriber is practising in the Northern Territory (NT), as evidenced by the practice address on the prescription
- the Chief Health Officer (CHO) can also declare Schedule 4 substances to be restricted if they are being used in a harmful manner.
The Schedule 8 website contains a current list of Top End and Alice Springs contracts on patients, contracting doctors and pharmacies.
Read about the laws that apply to S8 drugs in the S8 Code of Practice, further down this page.
Restricted S8 substances
S8 substances are classified as either restricted or unrestricted.
Restricted S8 substances include:
- buprenorphine (Subutex)
- buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone)
- methadone liquid
The following applies for the supply of dexamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate:
- authorisation from the CHO is required for each individual patient before a prescription can be written
- only paediatricians, psychiatrists, physicians, neurologists and registrars in training in these disciplines may make the decision to initiate supply
- other medical practitioners may continue supply after one of the above specialists or registrars has done so
- under such a co-management situation the patient must be seen by a specialist or registrar at least every two years
- paediatricians may initiate supply without an authorisation, but must obtain an authorisation if supply exceeds 30 days.
The following applies for the supply of buprenorphine (Subutex), buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and methadone liquid:
- medical practitioners providing pharmacotherapies for opioid dependence need to complete approved training initially and demonstrate continued clinical involvement and the undertaking of refresher training
- an authority from the CHO to supply buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone is required for each individual patient before a prescription can be written or supplied
- the framework for supply of these medications covers the writing of prescriptions, details of authorisation requirements, period of supply, dispensing of medications and takeaway privileges.
Unrestricted S8 substances
Unrestricted S8 substances include morphine and oxycodone.
The following applies for the supply of unrestricted substances:
- medical practitioners may supply unrestricted S8 substances for the treatment of medical and surgical conditions but not for the treatment of addiction
- a medical practitioner may only supply unrestricted S8 substances for up to 15 patients at a time
- this number does not include palliative care patients, hospital inpatients or those in need of emergency treatment
- a medical practitioner may apply to the CHO for an authority to prescribe unrestricted S8 substances for more than this number of patients
- medical practitioners must notify the CHO of the supply of unrestricted S8 substances under certain circumstances, for example if supply exceeds 8 weeks, if certain dosage levels are exceeded or if their circumstances may be conducive to possible abuse.
Electronic prescriptions may be issued in accordance with the Electronic Transactions (Northern Territory) Act.
24-hour clinical advice
The Drug and Alcohol Clinical Advisory Service (DACAS) offers professional advice to medical practitioners, pharmacists and other health professionals 24-hours.
Call DACAS on 1800 111 092.
Storage and transport
Health professionals producing or storing controlled Schedule 8 drugs read the Code of Practice for Schedule 8 Substances: Storage and Transport.
Schedule 8 code of practice
Code of Practice S8 Substances
|Code of Practice S8s - Volume 2|
Code of Practice S8 Substances
|General Medications Contract|
|Opiate Pharmacotherapy Contract|
|Drug Loss Discrepancy Report Form|
|Requirements of Prescriptions for S8 Substances|
|Information for Patients on S8 Medications|
|Interstate S8 prescriptions state phone and fax:|
Phone: (02) 6205 0998
Fax: (02) 6205 0997
Main switch phone: (02) 9391 9944
Fax: (02) 9424 5860
Non-methadone phone: (02) 9424 5923
Fax: (02) 9424 5889
Methadone phone: (02) 9424 5921
Fax:(02) 9424 5885
Phone: (07) 3328 9890
Fax: (07) 3328 9821
Phone: 1300 652 584
Fax: 1300 658 447
Phone: (03) 6166 0400
Fax: (03) 6233 3904
Phone: 1300 364 545 select #1
Fax: 1300 360 830
Phone: (08) 9222 6883
Fax: (08) 9222 2463
Phone: (08) 8922 7341
Fax: (08) 8922 7200
|Medical Practitioner Guide to Supplying Isotretinoin (47KB)|
|The Scheduled Substances Clinical Advisory Committee (48KB)|
|Voluntary Contract Notification Scheme (46KB)|
|Patient Delivered Partner Therapy (47KB)|
|Interstate Health Departments - S8 Drug Monitoring (44KB)|
|Changes for Medical Practitioners under MPTGA (55KB)|
|Recommended reading on treatment of pain|
|Opioid recommendations in general practice on the NSW Health website.|
|National Prescribing Service (NPS) Medicine Wise website|
Read more about scheduled substances in the Clinical Advisory Committee (CLAC).
For information on the following topics go to medicines and poisons safety:
- therapeutic goods recalls
- buying medicines online.