Medicines and poisons control
This page has information for pharmacists about prescription requirements, Schedule 8 (S8) medicines and the pharmacist immunisations.
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.
Employer pharmacists are legally obligated to minimise risks to employees in the course of business operations.
During this unprecedented time of COVID-19 disease, employers and managers must ensure the health and safety of all employees and customers.
Read the advice for community pharmacies infection control guide for more information.
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 email@example.com 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.
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 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.
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.
- 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.
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.
Last updated: 29 May 2020
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