Pharmacists

This page has information for pharmacists about prescription requirements for Schedule 8 (S8) drugs and the pharmacist-led immunisation pilot.

Pharmacists must familiarise themselves with the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act and Regulations and the Code of Practice S8 Substances.

To get the S8 Code of Conduct see medical practitioners.

S8 website

The S8 website is a secure site for registered users, including pharmacists, medical practitioners and Clinical Advisory Committee (CLAC) members to access confidential documentation about controlled medicines.

Pharmacists can access the Schedule 8 contact list and upload Schedule 8 reports to the Medicines and Poisons Control.

Pharmacists are strongly advised to refer back patients seeking narcotics or benzodiazepines, to their contracted prescriber.

Please notify Medicines and Poisons Control if there are any changes that need to be made on the contact list.

When to check

At a minimum, check the S8 website when you start at a new pharmacy, for your own protection and check the balance weekly when the S8 report and paperwork are sent to Medicines and Poisons Control.

Pharmacies should upload their S8 files as soon as they've generated an S8 report.

How to access

Email poisonscontrol@nt.gov.au or call (08) 8922 7341 to ask about accessing the S8 website as a pharmacy.

Initial training is provided over the phone or in person and ongoing support is available upon request.

Read the guide to uploading to the S8 website and guide to downloading.

Unrestricted S8 substances

Prescribers must notify Medicines and Poisons Control of the supply of unrestricted S8 substances such as morphine and pethidine if supply exceeds eight weeks, or if other circumstances arise that are in the Code of Practice.

Prescribers also need a special authorisation if they want to prescribe for more than an approved number of patients.  

Compliance is the responsibility of the prescriber, and pharmacists are not expected to routinely monitor these matters as a part of dispensing.

However pharmacists may contact Medicines and Poisons Control if they have particular queries or concerns.

Restricted S8 substances

These categories of S8 substances have the following supply restrictions applied to them.

Psycho-stimulants 

Psycho-stimulants include dexamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate.

General medical practitioners and nurse practitioners can co-prescribe in conjunction with a specialist paediatrician, psychiatrist, neurologist, physician or registrar in training in one of these disciplines.  

Prescribers are required to obtain authorisation before prescribing these substances.

Pharmacists are not required to check whether a prescriber has obtained authorisation, however they may contact Medicines and Poisons Control with queries or concerns.

Opioid substitution

This includes buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone 5mg/mL liquid.

Medical practitioners and nurse practitioners providing opioid substitution need to be specially trained and accredited by the Chief Health Officer.  

Medicines and Poisons Control can provide information on whether prescribers are accredited.

Prescription requirements

The S8 Code has these requirements for prescriptions of controlled drugs.
  • prescriptions for unrestricted S8 substances such as morphine are valid for six months, with dispensing of one month’s supply at any one time
  • prescriptions for restricted S8 psycho-stimulants (dexamphetamine, lisdexamfetamine and methylphenidate) are valid for six months
  • prescriptions for restricted S8 substances buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone 5mg/mL are valid for three months. They must be dispensed within three days of the date of issue or the start date (if different)
  • according to the S8 Code the following items must be written on all S8 prescriptions, in addition to usual requirements for prescriptions:
    • the date of birth of the patient
    • the type of preparation i.e. liquid or sublingual tablets
    • doses in words and numbers for buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone
    • quantities in words and numbers for unrestricted S8 substances and psycho-stimulant medication.
  • a prescription must be written in ink, not in pencil or another easily erasable material
  • if there are any changes to the details, the initials of the person who issued the prescription and the date the change was made must appear beside each change
  • prescribers must sign prescriptions in their handwriting unless they are using an electronic prescribing system
  • prescribers of buprenorphine, buprenorphine/naloxone and methadone 5mg/mL liquid, also need to include the name of the dispensing pharmacy as well as a detailed dosage regimen and any takeaway privileges.

Publications

Forms
Drug Loss Discrepancy Report Form
Information sheets
Explanation of Key Tasks - Pharmacy Specific
Summary of Requirements for Pharmacists
Prescriptions and Orders General
Supplying Without a Prescription
Changes for Pharmacists under MPTGA
Continued Dispensing initiative 5CPA
Identification of Prescriber
Methylated Spirits
Disposal of S8 Substances

Immunisation pilot

The Pharmacists-led immunisation pilot allows trained NT pharmacists to administer influenza, measles-mumps-rubella, and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccines to eligible adults 16 years or older, will begin in June 2015.

The Department of Health, in consultation with key pharmacy and health care organisations, has developed a set of education and practice requirements to enable pharmacists to provide a safe and effective immunisation service in the NT.

Training

Pharmacists are required to undergo additional training in order to ensure they can:

  • understand and follow approved protocols for pre-vaccination screening of clients and obtaining valid consent
  • maintain appropriate clinical records both within the pharmacy and the NT immunisation register
  • ensure that the pharmacy premises meet the NT Pharmacy Premises Committee's Premises and Equipment Standard for Pharmacy Based Immunisation Programs, including the need for a private area, anaphylaxis management plans and response kits as well as appropriate cold chain management and vaccine storage
  • can identify groups of clients who cannot be vaccinated by a pharmacist and who must be referred to their primary health care provider or general practice.

Northern Territory Pharmacist-Led Immunisation Pilot Guidelines (July 2016)

Pharmacists Prescribed Qualifications to Supply and Administer Vaccinations - Gazette S35

Gazette S4 3 February 2016

Register

If you are a pharmacy owner or pharmacist interested in participating in the pilot, read the pilot guidelines:

Submit the registration forms in Appendices 12 and 13 of the guidelines to:

Dr Rosalind Webby, Immunisation
Centre for Disease Control
PO Box 40596
Casuarina NT 0811 
rosalind.webby@nt.gov.au

Related information

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.

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Last updated: 10 February 2017